The elder people drive much worse than the young ones, or so are the rumors. However, it seems that this conception about the older drivers might be true, because according to a new study, the elder make much more driving mistakes even if they are healthy.
The people involved in the study were between the ages 70 and 89. The study revealed the fact that people with ages between 85 and 89, made four times as many mistakes as the ones between 70 and 74. It seems that 17 percent of the elderly drivers made mistakes such as checking blind spots or veering. In both of the cases, the driving instructor who was in the car with them had to either grab onto the steering wheel or hit the emergency break. The main reason why the elderly drivers have a more difficult time on the road is because the brain functioning ability is reduced in time.
As a result, the driving skills and the ability to ignore the distractions from the road are reduced. 266 people with ages between 70 and 88 participated to the study. The researchers wanted to see how well the brain of the volunteers worked. None of the elder people had any signs of dementia, and all of them lived without aid. They were independent, and they usually drove at least once a week. The volunteers had to take a 12-mile test drive. They were accompanied by a professional driving instructor. An occupational therapist sat in the back of the car, and his main goal was to note the critical errors which they might make such as veering, tailgating, speeding, sudden breaking, and failure to check the blind spots.
It seems that the ones between 85 and 89 made on average five critical errors, some of them which could have resulted in a crash, if the professional driver were not there. In comparison, people between the age of 70 and 74 made less than one critical error. It seems that people who had had an accident in the last five years were most likely to make a driving error. It seems that gender was not very important, as men and women made the same mistakes. The most common one was failing to check the blind spots.
Not about gender
Men and women made the same number of mistakes in the study. The most common mistake was failing to check blind spots, followed by veering across lanes of traffic and failing to use turn signals, the study said. Kaarin J. Anstey, a psychologist who directs the Aging Research Unit at Australian National University, and the leader of the study, stated that elder drivers might need additional screening or training, in order to be sure that they can drive. More and more elderly drivers will be on the road in the following period of time, as the Baby Boom generation grows older.
The experts have stated that the elder drivers should get their eyes checked at least once per year, they should plan their route, and that they should avoid eating, listening to the radio, or talking on the phone while driving.