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The problems of being an older driver: comparing the perceptions of an expert group and older drivers

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>02/1994
<mark>Journal</mark>Applied Ergonomics
Issue number1
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)17-27
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Driving instructors' observations of older drivers were compared with the experiences of older drivers themselves using two questionnaires. Instructors were asked to compare the ease or difficulty of teaching different skills to old and young pupils, and were asked what skills they would expect to have deteriorated in an experienced driver aged 70. Instructors found teaching most skills to older pupils more difficult than to younger pupils, especially vehicle control and where more than onse source of information demanded attention at once. Older pupils learned skills involving attitude and safety mindedness more readily than younger ones. Accident statistics suggest that junctions are dangerous places for older drivers and specific difficulties suggested by the instructors gave clues as to why junctions should be so problematic. Some skills seem to be intrinsically difficult for older people, in that instructors suggested them for both older pupils and experienced drivers: for example, vigilance, speed and distance judgements and coordination. There were also skills that instructors noted learners found difficult that experienced older drivers did not, namely vehicle control skills, and there were problems older drivers had that older learners did not, namely complacency and poor attitude towards safety. Older drivers were unaware of many of the problems suggested by driving instructors and by previous research. Comparison of these problems (eg failures of attention) with those that the drivers were aware of (eg fatigue) suggested that part of the reason for this lack of insight may be poor feedback. This is discussed with reference to directions for remediation. Finally, the effect of greater experience on older people's insight and willingness to make sensible adjustments to their driving was examined.