Study gives older drivers green light

Tuesday, 18 January 2005

The stereotype of older drivers being the worst on the roads may not be entirely true, according to a new University of Adelaide study.

Dr Matthew Baldock studied older drivers for his PhD at the University of Adelaide's internationally renowned Centre for Automotive Safety Research and the University's Department of Psychology.

He found that by avoiding difficult driving conditions such as peak hours, rain and darkness, elderly drivers have far less crashes than their younger counterparts.

"The youngest drivers are worse than the oldest. On average, in South Australia, one in every two drivers aged under 25 was involved in a crash in the previous five years, compared to only one in five drivers aged over 60 during the same period," Dr Baldock says.

Now working as a research officer at the Centre for Automotive Safety Research, Dr Baldock based his PhD research around the concept of "self-regulation" among older drivers.

Self-regulation can be defined as how, as they get older, drivers can modify their driving behaviour based on their own perception of how good they are behind the wheel.

Dr Baldock conducted a study examining the driving behaviour and attitudes of 104 drivers aged more than 60, and also analysed official South Australian crash statistics for the past 5 years.

"Overall, my studies showed that older drivers do engage in a degree of self-regulation of driving behaviour, and this self-regulation does have a relationship with driving ability - the more they perceive their ability to be declining, the more self-regulation they employ," he says.

"For example, older drivers with declining driving abilities tend to avoid driving at night and in the rain, because they feel they do not have the ability to perform these sorts of tasks safely any more."

"However, there are still some driving tasks which older drivers show little self-regulation for, such as performing right-hand turns across oncoming traffic."


Contact Details

Dr Matthew Baldock
Research Fellow
Centre for Automotive Safety Research
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5887
Mobile: 0427 792 592

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762