Driving Errors in Persons with Dementia

  • Published: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, July 2015
  • Authors: P. Barco, C. M. Baum, B. R. Ott, S. Ice, A. Johnson, M. Wallendorf and D. B. Carr
  • Date Added: 02 Jun 2017
  • Last Update: 02 Jun 2017
  • Format: html


To differentiate driving errors in persons with dementia who fail a performance- based road test from errors in persons who pass.



Active drivers diagnosed with dementia (n = 60) and older adult controls (n = 32).

All participants completed a standardized clinical and on-road driving assessment. The outcome variable was the number and types of driving errors according to the Record of Driving Errors (RODE), a standardized tool to record driving errors.

Key Findings:

  • Sixty-two percent (n = 37) of individuals with dementia and 3% (n = 1) of controls failed the road test

  • Based on the RODE, individuals with dementia made twice as many driving errors as healthy controls

  • Within the dementia sample, individuals who failed the road test had more difficulties driving straight and making left and right turns than during lane changes

  • Dangerous actions occurred most often while driving straight and making left turns

  • Specific driving behaviours associated with road test failure in the sample with dementia included difficulties in lane positioning and usage, stopping the vehicle appropriately, attention, decision-making, and following rules of the road

  • Informants of participants with dementia who failed the road test reported more impairment with cognitive functioning on the Assessing Dementia 8 Screening Interview (AD8).

  • Conclusion: The report highlights the driving errors most common in people with dementia who fail a road test

  • The finding that most of the dangerous actions in the sample with dementia occurred while driving straight is novel

  • Driving on straight roads has not been considered a condition of “high challenge” in prior driving studies in individuals with dementia

  • This finding has potential implications for future interventions related to vehicle instrumentation and driving recommendations for people with dementia.


Driving performance, Dementia, Older drivers, Driving errors