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Older Adults Often Use Electronic Devices While Driving

Ninety-one percent use radio, 79 percent adjust dashboard controls, 56 percent use cellphone

FRIDAY, June 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Older adults frequently engage in potentially distracting uses of electronic devices while driving, according to a study published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Elizabeth K. Vernon, from the Washington University in School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues examined the prevalence and frequency of technology usage in a sample of older adults. One hundred participants (aged 65 years and older) completed the Electronic Drive Survey, which consists of 37 questions and assesses the type and degree of electronic device usage while driving.

The researchers found that 91 percent of participants used the radio and 79 percent adjusted dashboard controls. In addition, 56 percent used a cellular phone and 39 percent used a global positioning system. Only 3 percent reported texting while driving and none of those with a smartphone reported e-mailing while driving. Age significantly predicted cellular telephone use while driving and owning a smartphone, with younger age linked to both cellular telephone use and smartphone ownership. Women were more likely to own a smartphone than men.

“Given the hazards of distracted driving found in other research, together with the frequency of distracted driving activities due to in-car technologies found in this study, electronic device use may be placing older adults and society at greater risk of motor vehicle crashes,” the authors write. “The benefits and risks of these devices in a growing aging population [need] further study.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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