Dementia and automated driving

Full Study Title

Use of Automated Vehicle Technologies by Persons with Dementia

Study Description

Driving cessation is a major challenge for over half a million Canadians living with dementia, their caregivers, and healthcare providers. While dementia can negatively affect a person’s ability to drive safely, the diagnosis itself does not automatically result in mandatory driving cessation. In fact, about one third of individuals with dementia continue to drive after diagnosis (Hopkins et al., 2004). The ability of persons with dementia (PWD) to drive safely deteriorates gradually as the disease progresses and therefore, during early stages of the disease, they may still be able to manage some driving tasks.

That’s why we think that driving cessation of PWD can be delayed or the transition made smoother if they receive appropriate levels of driving assistance. You may have heard that many scientists and companies are working on developing automated vehicles. We hypothesize that automated vehicles (AVs) may provide such assistance for PWD. However, no studies have explored the usefulness of this technology to address the driving challenges faced by PWD.

We aim to investigate the potential of automated vehicle to assist PWD in their driving. We are looking into whether AVs can allow people to drive longer with dementia and if it can smooth their transition so that like many other conditions affecting driving they can develop coping mechanisms to remain mobile from the beginning of the diagnosis.

But first, we are conducting a focus group interview with PWDs to identify their driving and mobility concerns so that we have a clear view of their needs and challenges, and we can take that into account when entering the next phase of our study. As Douglas Adams once said: ‘We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works’. So to investigate if automated vehicles can ‘work’ for PWD, we believe in the importance of learning from end-users to inform the future advancements in this technology and if possible, make it the most effective it can be.

Eligibility Criteria

You are eligible to participate as a person with dementia if:

+ You are over 65

+ You have a self-reported diagnosis of mild to moderate dementia by your physician

+ You have a valid driver’s licence or have voluntarily stopped driving sometime in the past 18 months

+ You have sufficient knowledge of English to participate in the interviews

Duration and Compensation

The study includes participating in a two-hour focus conducted online (video-call).

Participants will receive compensation for their time.

Principal Investigator

This study is conducted by Dr. Jennifer Campos. If you have questions about the study, please contact:

Ethics approval

This study has been approved by the Research Ethics Board of the University of Toronto

(REB# 38808)


If you want to participate in this study, you can sign up below. By signing up you agree to be contacted by a research member of our team, but you do not commit to participating in the study. You can decline your participation at any time. 

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