The overall aim of ROADI is make motor vehicle driving in North Carolina safe for all drivers and pedestrians. When ROADI was initiated in 2003, the focus was on older drivers retaining their freedom and independence while keeping them safe on the road. Since then, ROADI has expanded to encompass driver screening, evaluation, and rehabilitation throughout the lifespan, although older drivers remains at the core of the initiative.
The emphasis of the ROADI's research is a translational. Using the latest research from others in the field, we will apply the designs and implications to occupational therapy practice in the driving evaluation and rehabilitation.
Overall, our initiative is involved with:
With the aging population expected to climb 20% over the next 25 years, the rate of crashes and fatal accidents involving older adults is likely to become one of the leading causes of death among 65-75-year-olds. Currently, crashes are the second leading cause of death among 75-85-year-olds, second only to falls.
Across the country, there is a limited number of occupational therapists who are driving rehabilitation specialists (DRS). In North Carolina, there are only 11 DRS for state that has 12% of its population over the age of 65 years of age and growing! Frequently, someone needing an evaluation may need to wait 8-12 weeks for an appointment. There is a clear need for more specialists as well as general practitioners to address this area of practice.
Currently, there is no major driving evaluation, rehabilitation, and research center in North Carolina or surrounding states. ROADI was initiated to serve in this area be on the leading edge of translational research in the area. Only a few occupational therapy departments in the country have ongoing research programs for older adult drivers.
Occupational therapists are health care professionals who help individuals with skills for the job of living. Occupational therapists assist when individuals have difficulty with their daily tasks, including community mobility and transportation. Driving is a component of transportation that is critical to individuals across the lifespan. It becomes an issue when medical illnesses and diseases, as well as aging impacts an individual's ability to continue to drive safely.
More information about occupational therapy and driving can be gathered from the AOTA's website at:
There are several avenues of research that are being pursued under ROADI. Most of the studies have involved master's degree occupational therapy students. In addition, there have been service projects related to driving undertaken by Anne Dickerson and members of ROADI research team.