The Queensland University of Technology is asking older drivers who they ‘listen to’ before getting behind the wheel.
As part of a new study, the University’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety (CARRS-Q) will attempt to learn the factors influencing the driving decisions of the over-70s, and how that feedback can improve road safety.
CARRS-Q says elderly drivers often ‘self-regulate’ their actions behind the wheel - a practice that should perhaps be encouraged, based on previous research from the Centre.
But for some elderly drivers, the day will inevitably come when they can no longer continue driving and the Centre’s new study aims to discover who or what an elderly driver might be influenced by when making that decision.
"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," CARRS-Q’s Heidy Hassan said.
"What [this] 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. Previous research has found that feedback may help increase older drivers' awareness about their driving behaviours including limitations in their driving ability.”
Ms Hassan said 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 those drivers.
As drivers age, Ms Hassan said they often self-regulate by avoiding peak travelling times, driving at night or driving long distances as they notice their skills declining.
"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.
Ms Hassan said the number of drivers over the age of 65 was expected to double on Australian roads in the next three decades.
If you are over the age of 70, hold a driver’s licence and would like to take part in the online survey – click here (website opens in new window).