Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Do we fall into the Raymond Babbitt trap judging our own driving?

Did you drive after your stroke? Immediately? A month? Longer? Ever?

I drove fairly soon after mine, but driving didn't seem to be part of my concerns. I had trouble reading smaller print and lengthy items, but traffic signs and signals didn't present a challenge.

But that isn't true for everyone. Or maybe even most. Perhaps I was just fortunate in my particular case. One recent study indicates that stroke survivors more likely to make dangerous driving errors:
"Current guidelines recommend that patients should refrain from driving for a minimum of one month after stroke. However, many patients resume driving within the one-month period after stroke, and few patients report receiving driving advice from a physician immediately post-stroke," said Megan A. Hird, B.Sc., lead author of one of the abstracts and a master's student at University of Toronto doing research at St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada.
Hird and colleagues (abstract TP123) compared the driving performance of 10 mild ischemic stroke patients, within seven days of a stroke, to 10 people similar in age and education who had not had stroke. Using driving simulation technology, participants completed several driving tasks, from routine right and left turns to more demanding left turns with traffic, where most accidents occur, and a bus following task, requiring sustained attention.
They found:
  • Stroke survivors committed more than twice as many driving errors.
  • Stroke survivors had more errors during left turns with traffic and were almost four times more likely to make driving mistakes during the bus following task.
It makes a great deal of sense for someone - as impartial as possible - to check the stroke survivor's driving skills. It's frustrating, I'm sure, to avoid driving. But better frustrated than involved in a deadly crash.

We can't always judge our own driving skills (see video below). Later in the movie we learn, while I've seen worse, Raymond Babbitt is not that good of a driver.

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