J Alzheimers Dis 2018 ;63(4):1499-1508
Department of Geriatrics and Internal Medicine, Reims University Hospitals, Maison Blanche Hospital, Reims, France.
Background: Because cognitive processes decline in the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD), the driving abilities are often affected. The naturalistic driving approach is relevant to study the driving habits and behaviors in normal or critical situations in a familiar environment of participants.
Objective: This pilot study analyzed in-car video recordings of naturalistic driving in patients with early-stage AD and in healthy controls, with a special focus on tactical self-regulation behavior.
Methods: Twenty patients with early-stage AD (Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition [DSM-IV] criteria), and 21 healthy older adults were included in the study. Data collection equipment was installed in their personal vehicles. Two expert psychologists assessed driving performance using a specially designed Naturalistic Driving Assessment Scale (NaDAS), paying particular attention to tactical self-regulation behavior, and they recorded all critical safety events.
Results: Poorer driving performance was observed among AD drivers: their tactical self-regulation behavior was of lower quality. AD patients had also twice as many critical events as healthy drivers and three times more "unaware" critical events.
Conclusion: This pilot study used a naturalistic approach to accurately show that AD drivers have poorer tactical self-regulation behavior than healthy older drivers. Future deployment of assistance systems in vehicles should specifically target tactical self-regulation components.