Mature drivers sought for research study

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury/Manchester/East Hartford - posted Thu., May. 19, 2011
Hartford Hospital's Lea Ann Fortin-McCue explains the driving study to seniors in Glastonbury on May 16. Photo by Steve Smith.
Hartford Hospital's Lea Ann Fortin-McCue explains the driving study to seniors in Glastonbury on May 16. Photo by Steve Smith.

Hartford Hospital is looking for people 65 years or older to participate in a study on safe driving.

Lea Ann Fortin-McCue, program coordinator with the hospital's Injury Prevention Center, said the program actually gauges people's abilities related to driving, and how they change over time.

“It looks at things like vision, physical fitness, and some aspects of perception,” Fortin-McCue said. “We're not looking at your driving skills, as we're not taking anyone out for a ride in a car. What we're looking at are the abilities that keep you safe as a driver.”

The study, which started in March, is expected to survey about 600 mature drivers, who will complete a questionnaire, a computer screening program, and a follow-up telephone survey. The survey is expected to continue until the fall.

Participants will receive a report which includes recommendations for any identified issues. If, for example, it is found that a person's vision may not be as good as it should be, a recommendation will be made that the person have their vision checked by a doctor. The entire time obligation is between one and two hours.

“We're finding out if there's something going on that you should talk to somebody else about,” said Fortin-McCue, adding that a pilot study, which had a small number of people sampled, showed that a percentage of people have some difficulty moving in order to check blind spots while in traffic.

Fortin-McCue stressed that the surveys are private and confidential.

“We are collecting the information so that we can look at it in an aggregate form,” she said. “It's about how people are doing, and how they are doing compared to other people.”

She added that the survey is being funded through a grant from the Department of Transportation, but only the aggregate results are being shared.

“We're doing it as a random-control study,” she said. “We want to find out the efficacy of it. If people take a screening, and then find out the results, what are they doing with it?”

Glastonbury Senior Center Director Maryleah Skoronski, who took part in the survey, said one of the benefits is that participants can learn about any issues they may have.

“It's really a win-win situation for someone who takes the time,” Skoronski said.

Glastonbury resident Eileen Kelly said she also has taken part, and people ask her about the privacy issue.

“A friend said she was afraid it would be reported to the Motor Vehicle Department,” Kelly said. “It's not going anywhere.”

The next phase, Fortin-McCue said, is to disseminate the study to a state-wide audience.

The study is taking place in eight towns, including Glastonbury, East Hartford and Manchester.

Participants will also receive a $5 gift card from Dunkin Donuts.

Those interested in taking part in the survey should call Lea Ann Fortin-McCue at 860-249-1245.


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