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Truck Safety Study

Seeking commercial truck drivers for a research study aimed at improving truck driving safety.

  • Requires an annual 2-hour office visit for 3 years.
  • Visits include cognitive, visual and simulator tests to assess and improve driving safety.
  • $50 compensation is provided.

Driving trucks is a highly dynamic task that requires careful planning and consideration to avoid unanticipated shifts in the center of gravity associated with sharp turns while speeding (slushing) or liquid surges associated with sharp braking.

Such planning and consideration are highly dependent on cognitive and visual skills for accuracy.

This is an intervention that has not been investigated thoroughly and this project will improve the diagnosis and treatment of cognitive and visual fitness of truck drivers.

Study Description: Assessing and Improving the Cognitive and Visual Driving Fitness of Older Long-Haul Truck Drivers

uring the first year of this proposal, our team has developed a driving fitness assessment battery that consists of tests that have been shown in the literature to be reliable and valid measures of driving-related cognitive and visual skills. These tests consist of the Snellen Maze Test, Trails A and B, Range of Motion and Gait Speed. Cognitively, the Montreal Cognitive Exam (MoCA) exam will be used. Drivers over age 18 licensed to drive over long distances will be recruited and given this battery of tests to:

  1. Assess their cognitive and visual fitness,
  2. Establish the usefulness and effectiveness of these tests to drivers before embarking on the journey, and
  3. Identify potential risk factors that contribute to unsafe driving.

We anticipate that this part of the study will be helpful in identifying drivers who have cognitive and/or visual impairments that may make driving a truck carrying hazardous materials unsafe. A unique aspect of this part of the study is the possibility of improving driving fitness by offering drivers with demonstrated cognitive and visual deficits the opportunity to retrain and improve such skills in a technologically advanced high fidelity simulator. The Kansas Highway Patrol and Teamsters 41 will collaborate with us for recruitment of our subjects.

A second component of this study is to create a warning system to assess the attention capacity of truck drivers using pupillary reflexes. This is a novel research hypothesis that has not been studied yet. In addition, this project is needed to meet MATC's vision to become a nationally recognized center of transportation excellence focused on developing new knowledge, innovative solutions, and the next generation of transportation professionals necessary to sustain the U.S. transportation system in a manner that is safer, more effective, more efficient, environmentally friendly, and sustainable. This project will meet MATC's research goal to make fundamental advancements in basic and theoretical research related to improving the safety of the US and Region VII transportation systems. A key focus is to ensure that this research product will be implemented by regional and national transportation agencies.

We anticipate that this study will be helpful in identifying CDL drivers who have cognitive and/or visual impairments that may make driving a commercial vehicle, including those carrying hazardous materials, unsafe. A unique aspect of this part of the study is the possibility of improving driving fitness by offering drivers with demonstrated cognitive and visual deficits the opportunity to retrain and improve such skills in a technologically advanced high-fidelity simulator.

Moreover, this project will also meet Mid-America Transportation Center (MATC)'s research goal to make fundamental advancements in basic and theoretical research related to improving the safety of the US and Region VII transportation systems. A key focus is to ensure that this research product will be implemented by regional and national transportation agencies.

Landon Center on Aging

University of Kansas Medical Center 
Landon Center on Aging
Mail Stop 1005
3901 Rainbow Boulevard 
Kansas City, KS 66160 
Fax: 913-945-7544