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Reducing the road toll for elderly drivers

Press Release 15 January 2008

Reducing the road toll for elderly drivers

A scientific approach to helping assess the fitness of elderly drivers to continue driving is the award winning project of the Van der Veer Institute for Parkinson’s and Brain Research.

The Christchurch based Institute has won the 2007 Transport Research and Educational Trust Board Award.

The Institute is affiliated with Canterbury and Otago Universities, and Canterbury’s District Health Board and Medical Research Foundation.

Associate Professors Richard Jones and John Dalrymple-Alford, Dr Carrie Innes, and Ms Petra Hoggarth can now commence the project which entails validating and improving predictive models of the ability of healthy older drivers to drive safely.

“Within the number of elderly drivers who have accidents, there’s a significant minority who are driving with impairments caused by degenerative disease.” said Trust Chairman, Dr Murray King. “A successful outcome from this project will enable General Practitioners to make more objective assessments of their older patients’ ability to drive and where there is any concern to refer them for comprehensive assessments."

The Transport Research and Educational Trust is administered by the Chartered Institute of Transport and Logistics and makes grants to individuals and organisations for transport or logistics related projects that further its aims to promote, encourage and co-ordinate the study and advancement of the science of transport in all its branches within New Zealand.

“The Van der Veer Institute’s proposal was outstanding in the face of strong competition from a record number of applications” added Dr King, “and the beneficial consequences of a successful outcome are important and clear to see."

The project is expected to be completed by mid 2009.


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