Jan. 14, 2004
Screening Aging Drivers
The Effects of Multitasking and Aging on Driving Ability: How Should Drivers Be Screened?
Anthony Burnetti, 14, Derwood, Md.
Wings Channel "EAA Aviation Camp" Award, Discovery Channel Young Scientists Challenge, 2003
Project background: On the news, Anthony saw stories about the need for an effective and inexpensive method of testing aging drivers' abilities. Because more people are living longer, states are seeking methods for screening older drivers. Anthony wanted to create such a test that focused on a person's multitasking ability and driving skill and how these skills changed as he or she got older.
Tactics and results: Anthony developed and administered Stroop tests to assess mental vitality and response to many stimuli at one time. Stroop tests exploit our ability to read words more quickly than we can identify colors.
Anthony developed three such tests at varying levels of difficulty and administered them to 38 people of different ages. He observed the time differences in the individuals' responses between the first and third tests and correlated those data with age, driving ability, and driving record. Anthony also administered computer-simulated driving tests to each individual.
Anthony compared data from both tests and found that, as drivers aged, their multitasking and driving abilities decreased.
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