Could Brain Training Help Reduce Florida Car Accidents Involving Elderly Drivers?
At least one study suggests it might be the case. According to researchers at the University of South Florida, elderly drivers who take part in brain training reduce their risk of being in car accidents by half, when compared with elderly drivers who receive no brain training. The training involves cognitive training programs which do not address driving skills in particular, but are rather concerned with strengthening cognitive power.
The study tested 908 drivers with an average age of 73. Some drivers were given no training, some took part in a program designed to improve reaction speed while others trained with a program designed to hone reasoning skills. A final group worked with a program created to improve memory. All drivers received ten sessions and were then tracked for six years. According to researchers, drivers who took programs designed to improve reasoning skills and reaction speed were able to reduce car accidents by 50%. The programs designed to improve memory had no discernible outcome on accident rates.
Of those drivers who took the memory training course, 16% had at least one accident that was personally their fault. The drivers who took no training had an 18% accident rate. However, of those who took the reasoning program, only 12% were in car accidents. Only 10% of those drivers who took the speed response program were in accidents over the six-year period.
The study seems to suggest that training – even training that does not have anything to do with improving driving skills – may be able to help prevent Florida pedestrian accidents and traffic accidents involving elderly drivers by honing specific skills. Researchers are especially excited by the fact that the brain training seems to have long-term impact on driving ability, since participants were still seeing different car accident rates years after their mind training sessions.
However, another study from the University of Cambridge that studied 11, 000 drivers found that brain training did not help cognitive skills in real-life tasks such as driving. However, authors of the University of South Florida note that theirs is the first study to take driving skills into consideration specifically and to test different types of brain training.