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.
Ides Wong, from QUT's Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q), said a person's age was not an accurate predictor of their driving ability.
"People do not wake up on their 75th birthday a worse driver than they were the day before, which is what current age-based testing assumes," Dr Wong said.
"We know that as people age their physical, cognitive and sensory abilities decline. However, aged-based testing for older drivers, although popular within legislative and public domains, is problematic because we lack consensus as to which age-based tests can accurately predict a driver's performance."
As part of her recently completed PhD, Dr Wong looked at whether self-regulation of driving behaviour was adopted by older adults.
"Older drivers tell us that they have changed their driving patterns as a result of age, for example restricting their night-time and long distance driving habits to reduce the challenges of high-pressure driving," she said.
"As part of my study I used in-car monitoring to confirm that older drivers do self-regulate their driving such as avoiding peak hour traffic and night-time driving.
"This suggests that rather than discriminating against older drivers because of their age by restricting their way of getting around town, we could aim to improve their safety, as well as mobility, by supporting them to self-regulate their driving behaviours."
Dr Wong said as the world's adult population was rapidly aging, managing the safety of older drivers was fast becoming a critical social and public health issue.
"We do know that taking away a person's licence impacts on their mobility, independence, health and overall quality of life.
|Contact: Sandra Hutchinson|
Queensland University of Technology