Age and visual impairment decrease driving performance as measured on a closed-road circuit

Hum Factors. 2002 Fall;44(3):482-94. doi: 10.1518/0018720024497664.


In this study the effects of visual impairment and age on driving were investigated and related to visual function. Participants were 139 licensed drivers (young, middle-aged, and older participants with normal vision, and older participants with ocular disease). Driving performance was assessed during the daytime on a closed-road driving circuit. Visual performance was assessed using a vision testing battery. Age and visual impairment had a significant detrimental effect on recognition tasks (detection and recognition of signs and hazards), time to complete driving tasks (overall course time, reversing, and maneuvering), maneuvering ability, divided attention, and an overall driving performance index. All vision measures were significantly affected by group membership. A combination of motion sensitivity, useful field of view (UFOV), Pelli-Robson letter contrast sensitivity, and dynamic acuity could predict 50% of the variance in overall driving scores. These results indicate that older drivers with either normal vision or visual impairment had poorer driving performance compared with younger or middle-aged drivers with normal vision. The inclusion of tests such as motion sensitivity and the UFOV significantly improve the predictive power of vision tests for driving performance. Although such measures may not be practical for widespread screening, their application in selected cases should be considered.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Australia
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Vision Tests
  • Visual Fields