Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Driving with the dog not a good idea for seniors

Date:
May 2, 2013
Source:
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Summary:
Senior drivers who always take a pet in the car are at increased risk for being involved in a motor vehicle collision, said researchers. The research team said both overall and at-fault crash rates for drivers 70 years of age or older were higher for those whose pet habitually rode with them.

Senior drivers who always take a pet in the car are at increased risk for being involved in a motor vehicle collision, said University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) researchers. In a study published in Accident Analysis and Prevention on May 2, 2013, the research team said both overall and at-fault crash rates for drivers 70 years of age or older were higher for those whose pet habitually rode with them.

"This is the first study to evaluate the presence of pets in a vehicle as a potential internal distraction for elderly drivers," said Gerald McGwin, Ph.D., a professor in the Departments of Epidemiology, Ophthalmology and Surgery and senior author of the study. "The increased crash rate for elderly drivers who always drive with pets is important in the context of increasing driver awareness about potentially dangerous driving habits."

Distracted driving has become a focal point for the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration and is defined as anything that could potentially remove a driver's eyes from the road, their hands from the steering wheel or their concentration from the task of driving.

The authors report that cell phone use has received the most attention, which has led some states to enact legislation controlling their use. Currently Hawaii is the only state that specifically restricts drivers from having a pet in the lap. Arizona, Connecticut and Maine have broader laws restricting behavior or activities that could potentially distract a driver; such laws could be applicable to pets in a vehicle.

"There is no direct evidence that driving with pets is or is not a threat to public safety, however, indirect evidence exists based on distracted driving research on texting, eating or interacting with electronics or even other passengers," said McGwin. "And there are certainly anecdotal reports in the news media of crashes and even fatalities caused by drivers distracted by a pet in the vehicle."

The authors suggest that when confronted with an increased cognitive or physical workload while driving, elderly drivers have exhibited slower cognitive performance and delayed response times in comparison to younger age groups.

"Adding another distracting element, especially an active, potentially moving animal, provides more opportunity for an older driver to respond to a driving situation in a less than satisfactory way," said McGwin. "Regulations in this area might be warranted, particularly if our findings are replicated by others."

The study, conducted in the Clinical Research Unit in the UAB Department of Ophthalmology, enrolled 2,000 community-dwelling (those who do not live in assisted living or nursing homes) licensed drivers age 70 and older, of whom 691 had pets. Study subjects took a survey on driving habits, and those with pets were asked about the frequency of driving with pets. Participants also underwent visual sensory and higher-order visual processing testing.

The crash risk for drivers who always drove with their pets was double that of drivers who never drove with a pet, while crash rates for those who sometimes or rarely drove with pets were consistent with the rates for non-pet owners.

More than half the pet owners said they took their pet with them in the car at least occasionally, usually riding on the front passenger seat or in the back seat.

"That is consistent with previous studies looking at all drivers, which indicate that slightly more than half of all drivers take a pet with them at times," said McGwin. "And it's interesting to note that earlier surveys indicate that 83 percent of those surveyed agreed that an unrestrained dog was likely dangerous in a moving vehicle, yet only 16 percent have ever used any type of restraint on their own pet."

Given the current debate about all types of distracted driving, the study authors suggest that further study of pet-related distracted driving behaviors among older drivers, as well as younger populations, with respect to driver safety and performance is warranted to appropriately inform the need for policy regulation on this issue.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alabama at Birmingham. The original article was written by Bob Shepard. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Driving with the dog not a good idea for seniors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502104518.htm>.
University of Alabama at Birmingham. (2013, May 2). Driving with the dog not a good idea for seniors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502104518.htm
University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Driving with the dog not a good idea for seniors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130502104518.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Who Could Be Burnt by WHO's E-Cigs Move?

Who Could Be Burnt by WHO's E-Cigs Move?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 28, 2014) The World Health Organisation has called for the regulation of electronic cigarettes as both tobacco and medical products. Ciara Lee looks at the impact of the move on the tobacco industry. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
JPMorgan Chase Confirms Possible Cyber Attack

JPMorgan Chase Confirms Possible Cyber Attack

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 28, 2014) Attackers stole checking and savings account information and lots of other data from JPMorgan Chase, according to the New York Times. Other banks are believed to be victims as well. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Director On Ebola Outbreak: 'It's Worse Than I Feared'

CDC Director On Ebola Outbreak: 'It's Worse Than I Feared'

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) CDC director Tom Frieden says the Ebola outbreak is even worse than he feared. But he also said there's still hope to contain it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: Ebola Cases Could Eventually Reach 20,000

UN: Ebola Cases Could Eventually Reach 20,000

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) The Ebola outbreak in West Africa eventually could exceed 20,000 cases, more than six times as many as are known now, the World Health Organization said as the US announced plans to test an experimental Ebola vaccine. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins