Over 70 and still driving, who do you listen to?

July 29, 2014 by Sandra Hutchinson
Over 70 and still driving, who do you listen to?
A new study looks at who older drivers listen to when behind the wheel.

Studies show older drivers self-regulate their actions behind the wheel, but now a QUT road safety researcher is looking to find out who and what influences their driving decisions and how this feedback can improve road safety.

Heidy Hassan, from QUT's Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q), said feedback was an everyday part of life for all drivers and for it could help guide their decision to continue or hand back the keys.

"Research has found that encouraging older drivers to self-regulate their driving rather than revoking their licence based on age, has the potential to improve safety and maintain independence," Ms Hassan said.

"What my study is looking to do is investigate who has influence over older drivers and what impact this feedback has on their driving decisions and performance.

"My previous research has found that feedback may help increase older drivers' awareness about their driving behaviours including limitations in their driving ability.

"But what we don't know is how feedback is best received by older drivers and what we can do to use this feedback in a positive way to help promote safer driving."

Ms Hassan said feedback and influence from others could prove a valuable tool in the design of an intervention program to improve safety for older drivers, but any program needed to target the individual needs of older drivers.

She said as people age, their functional and sensory ability declines which could compromise their driving.

"Older drivers compensate for these changes by regulating their driving behaviour, for example avoiding peak hour traffic, not driving at night or only travelling short distances," she said.

"It has been suggested that older adults' insight into their own limitations is crucial for safe driving but there has been little research on the impact of feedback on older drivers' self-awareness and subsequent self-regulatory behaviours."

Ms Hassan said the number of drivers over the age of 65 was expected to double on Australian roads in the next three decades.

"It is estimated that by the year 2031, one in five Queenslanders will be aged 65 years or older," Ms Hassan said.

"Previous research shows that although the risk of being involved in a crash is lower for seniors than young people in terms of rate per population, the risk of being killed when a crash occurs is much greater due to the increased fragility as the body ages."

As part of my study, I am calling for people aged 70 years or more, who have a current drivers licence to take part in an online survey.

"The survey is about getting a better understanding of older drivers, their driving history and their perception of risk," she said.

"It is also about finding out who is giving them feedback on their driving and who are they most likely to accept feedback from."

Explore further: Don't judge older drivers by age

Related Stories

Don't judge older drivers by age

January 28, 2014
Encouraging older drivers to self-regulate their driving rather than revoking their licence based on age, has the potential to improve their safety and maintain their independence, a QUT study has found.

Barriers prevent many older Americans from taking driving tests

June 30, 2014
As the American population continues to age, new research is showing significant barriers to evaluations important to the continued safety and competency of older drivers.

Accident rates improving for older US drivers

February 20, 2014
Safety researchers expressed concern a decade ago that traffic accidents would increase as the aging U.S. population swelled the number of older drivers on the road. Now, they say they' have been proved wrong.

New simulator for older drivers is put to the test

April 16, 2014
University of Adelaide researchers are hoping that a new computer-based driving simulation will help lead to accurate, low-cost testing of older drivers' ability to stay safe on the roads.

Recommended for you

High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

July 21, 2017
A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact ...

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.