Center on Aging Study to Gauge Impaired Driving Downeast

The University of Maine Center on Aging is working with healthcare and social service providers and the public to determine to what degree impaired driving among older adults in Washington County is a hazard.

Impaired driving includes any condition that compromises an individual’s ability to drive a motor vehicle safely, and ranges from impaired vision to impaired decision-making due to medication, alcohol or substance abuse, according to Center on Aging research associate David C. Wihry.

“The study is to essentially scope the issue of impaired driving among older adults in Washington County in terms of how community members and professionals there view the issue, what they know about it, how important they think it is to address, as well as practical suggestions that they have for addressing the issue,” Wihry says. “In the report we are putting together, there will be suggestions for both exploring the issue further and ideas for interventions. So it is a combination of determining how much of an issue it is, as well as determining possible areas for further study and strategies for intervention.”

The Center on Aging and UMaine School of Social Work recently received a small grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services via the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Community Health and Counseling Services in Bangor. The funding continues the project, “Washington County Older Adult Impaired Driving Project,” which started in 2010. The Center on Aging conducted focus groups in four Washington County communities to better understand both public and professionals’ perceptions on the issue, and consider suggestions for addressing them.

The Center is now broadening the survey population with electronic and telephone interviews to get more information. A report on the findings is due out this winter.

Contact: David C. Wihry, (207) 262-7928