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Teenagers and adults: mental abilities for safe driving

adAs drivers get older a number of cognitive problems can get in the way of safe driving.

The insurance company Allstate recently started a research study to evaluate innovative ways to alleviate this problem. Allstate is now offering for free the InSight program (a Posit Science program) to several thousand 50-75 year-old, auto policy-holders in Pennsylvania, as well as to some potential clients. They recommend participants to devote at least 10 hours to the training exercises. They expect the software exercises to reduce risky driving maneuvers and improve stopping distance. The goal is to see whether computerized brain training can help reduce the number of accidents in the group participating in the exercises compared to the group of policy-holders who are not. InSight focuses mostly on visual processing but prior studies, conducted by Dr. Jerri Edwards (whose interview you can find at the end of this chapter) have shown that computerized program focusing on visual awareness can indeed improve driving skills.

An increasing number of traffic schools in Europe and Canada, as well as US companies that employ large numbers of drivers, are adding a new tool to their assessment and training toolkit: the DriveFit technology, developed by CogniFit. This program was awarded the prestigious Prince Michael International Award for Road Safety for its ‘outstanding contribution to road safety’ in the UK. DriveFit is a suite of programs aimed at helping to assess and build the cognitive, psychomotor and personality skills needed by novice, senior and fleet drivers. The product is distributed by country-specific agreements with chains of traffic schools, such as Young Drivers of Canada (over 100 centers) and the British School of Motoring (BSM) in the UK (with 107 centers).

According to non-published research from driving training experts at the British School of Motoring, learners who trained with MAP (Mental Alertness Programme, developed by CogniFit for BSM, building on DriveFit) recorded a 16 percent higher pass rate (of the exam required to obtain a driving license) than ones who did not use the program.

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