Evaluation of driver competence amongst older people
The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s (2010: 35) statistics for reported Road TrafficCollision’s (RTC’s) which involved older drivers only accounted for 6.8% of the totalshare of collisions for 2009, however the ABI (2010) has stated that older drivers havemore collisions per vehicle mile than middle aged drivers, and are more likely to causeinjuries to other road users, which has led to the development of this study.An original test was developed using an ECA FAROS driving simulator over two drivingscenarios, to test for driver reaction time; hazard perception; the effect of stress; the abilityto maintain appropriate levels of speed; perceived driving ability vs actual driving ability,and to finally make a critical appraisal based on the research to decide if there is a need formandatory retests.. The test sample used 10 older drivers which ranged 65 – 81 years of age, and an experienced professional Test Reference Subject (TRS) was used to set thebenchmark of the best possible standard the drivers could hope to achieve.The older drivers braking reaction time was 68% slower than what was measured from theexperienced driver, and the older drivers reaction time to hazards took 189% longer thanthe experienced drivers between both the country and urban tests.
driversidentified 47% fewer hazards between both the tests, than what the experienced driveridentified, and the older drivers identified the hazards 55% closer to the hazard betweenthe two tests, compared to the experienced driver.
The test subjects average speed was40% less than the experienced driver on the country test, and on average, the older driversactual driving ability was only 64.8% of what they perceived it to be, showing a lack of critical self-appraisal. The findings of this thesis therefore, have unequivocally shown thatolder drivers are less able to drive safely when they get older.