Aug 27, 2019
Driving is a complex skill and behavior but something that we often take for granted since it is a common and crucial part of modern life. It involves attention, vision, perception, cognition, memory, anticipation, motor control, reaction time, and more. Parkinson’s disease (PD) can affect several of these abilities, and as the disease progresses, driving may become more of a problem. So it is crucial that people with PD establish a good rapport with their health care providers to make sure that they are competent and safe on the road for their own sake as well as for the safety of others.
For many years, Dr. Ergun Uč of the University of Iowa has been studying driver safety in PD. He is the director of the Division of Movement Disorders at the university, which is a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence. He says decisions about fitness to drive should not be based solely on the medical diagnosis or age as these measures alone may unfairly deny people their mobility and independence or may mistakenly allow unfit drivers to stay on the road. In making the decision about fitness to drive, he advocates adding empirical observations of performance, and thus, his research has focused on validating tests to judge driving safety of people with PD.