Research Papers

Merging two paths safely: aging and obesity

Version 1
Date added June 17, 2014
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Category 2014 CMRSC XXIV Vancouver
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 6B
Author/Auteur Martin Lavallière, Grant A. Handrigan
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)

6B Lavalliere & Handrigan_Merging two paths safely aging and obesity



The aim of this paper is to review the literature on the association between aging, obesity and traffic safety. The goal of this article is to promote insightful reflection and discussion around extrinsic and intrinsic factors on obesity and aging. This is an emerging topic in the scientific literature that needs to address the present and future challenges related to improving driving safety. The primary target audiences for this information are public policy decision makers and researchers.


Extensive searches were conducted on Pubmed, Scopus, ISI web of knowledge and Google scholar. Keyword search terms were “Age**”, “Obes*” AND “Driv*”. Once the literature was collected, it was sorted into a coherent resume of the general ideas and is presented for discussion.

Discussion / Conclusion

Aging is considered as one of the key areas of research for the identification of risk factors that potentially lead to motor vehicle crashes (MVCs). There is, however, one subset of the aging population that has been overlooked as an area of interest for the identification of risk factors for MVCs. This subset is the elderly obese population (age 65 + and BMI greater than 30 kg/m2). There are several reasons why aging and obesity together require a concerted effort on understanding how these two conditions interact to increase risk for involvement in a MVC. The reasons for the potential increased risk for involvement in a MVC can be summarized as either mobility related issues or health related. Mobility related issues are separated into extrinsic (e.g., motor vehicle fit) and intrinsic (e.g., movement constraints) factors. Health related issues are traditional health challenges associated with obesity and the normal aging process. Additionally, the evidence of increased morbidity and/or mortality following an MVC in obese elderly individuals compared to other drivers will also be summarized and discussed. Finally, though limited prevention strategies exist for these issues in the literature, some strategies are presented for consideration. Prevention and education are the first steps towards an integrated understanding of how aging and obesity affect driving safety.

Based on the review of this evidence, there is a need to inform public policy decision makers on the possible additional risk factors associated with aging and obesity for MVCs.

Martin Lavallière, Grant A. Handrigan