Differential impacts of road diets on driving behavior among older adults with and without preclinical Alzheimer’s pathology

The driving populace of the United States is aging. The prevalence of Alzheimer disease (AD) will increase in the coming decades. Road diets (that is, the reallocation of one or more lanes of car traffic to other uses) have been proposed as a modification to increase pedestrian safety, particularly for older adults. In contrast, the authors considered the impacts of road diets on aging drivers, and on those with early pathological accumulation of AD. The authors observed naturalistic driving data for 60 cognitively normal older drivers (Age Range = 62–87 years, Median = 75 years) driving across three road segments located in the St. Louis metropolitan area, Missouri, United States. The authors used neuroimaging and lumbar puncture derived biomarker data to determine which of the drivers had preclinical AD. Since previous AD studies identified a variety of changes in driving behavior among older drivers with preclinical AD, the authors examined driving speed before and after lane repurposing. The authors found that drivers with preclinical AD drove at lower speeds compared to those without preclinical AD prior to road diet implementation. After lanes were repurposed, there was no statistical difference in the speed between older drivers with and without preclinical AD. The authors evaluated cognitive performance and found that attentional control had a mediating effect on driver speed, suggesting that an individual’s ability to focus on a specific task and filter out distractions was associated with faster driving. Driving speed after lane repurposing is not mediated by attentional control, suggesting that road diets are impervious to individual driver capacity. The authors conclude that lane repurposing has potential as an important mobility infrastructure solution that could enhance older driver safety and facilitate aging in place.


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  • Accession Number: 01893065
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 13 2023 10:23AM