Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William Drew Gouvier


Studies have shown that individuals with Alzheimer's disease have a greater number of automobile crashes than normal elderly controls. Assessment of driving ability is usually conducted by use of an on-the-road examination. These examinations are costly, time intensive, and sometimes dangerous. Finding other measures that are predictive of driving ability will enable screening of patients to decrease the number of on-road examinations. Alzheimer's disease patients and normal elderly control subjects were administered neuropsychological measures as well as the Driver Performance Test (DPT) and Driver Risk Index (DRI), both videotaped tests of driving knowledge and risk assessment. Driving histories based on collateral report were obtained for each subject, quantifying confusion while driving, moving violations, and crashes. These three factors were weighted to provide a Total Driving Index (TDI) as an overall indicator of the subjects' driving ability. There were no significant differences between the two groups of subjects on the TDI, although AD subjects were statistically more likely than controls to be rated as unsafe. Predictors of driving ability as measured by the TDI were different for the two groups, with Trails A accounting for the most incremental variance for AD subjects and Delayed Visual Reproduction accounting for the most incremental variance for controls. Results for control subjects were significantly better than AD subjects for all neuropsychological measures, the DRI, and the DPT Total. These findings indicate the need for more sensitive predictors of driving ability which includes better assessment of risky driving behaviors.