Safer driving by improving visual processingIn my view the most impressive outcome from a cognitive training study is the 51% reduction in at-fault crash rates found in the ACTIVE study. ACTIVE is an acronym for Advanced Cognitive Training in the Independent and Vital Elderly. It is the largest clinical trial to examine the effects of cognitive training with almost 3000 participants. The researchers examined state crash records in the 5 year period following training and found the largest reduction for participants who trained on an exercise now called Road Tour. Road Tour is contained in Posit Science’s DriveSharp and InSight training programs.

Automobile insurance companies have been very interested in this finding but they have been concerned that the effects might be different for their policyholders. In particular they wonder if results from a controlled clinical trial with training performed in a laboratory setting could apply to a broader segment of the population training at home. Posit has partnered with Allstate to set up a pilot study to address this question. In September 2008 Allstate offered InSight training to a group of policyholders in Pennsylvania aged 50 and over. So far about 5,000 policyholders have started training.

Recently I presented the initial results from this study at The Eye and The Auto conference held last August in Detroit. Here are the main results:

  • People who performed poorly on the InSight tasks before training were twice as likely to have been in an automobile accident in the previous three years.
  • The majority of users who do10 hours of InSight training move into lower crash risk categories.

These results confirm the importance of fast and efficient visual processing for safe driving. They are also consistent with results from randomized controlled studies and show that crash risk can be reduced in the general population by using the DriveSharp or InSight training programs.