Driving mistakes increase with age

Last Updated: May 17, 2011, 13:36 PM IST

Sydney: Young adults who are essentially good drivers are prone to commit dangerous driving mistakes as they age, a recent study has claimed.

While most studies of older drivers have focused on people with dementia or other conditions that might impair their driving performance, this latest Australian study comprised 266 volunteers aged 70 to 88 years, who showed no signs of dementia, lived independently and drove at least once a week, the journal Neuropsychology reports.

"We wanted to develop evidence-based measures for detecting unsafe older drivers and show how specific cognitive abilities relate to different types of driving errors," said study co-author Kaarin J. Anstey, psychologist at the Australian National University.

Participants completed a battery of cognitive tests and questionnaires about their driving history before they drove on a 12-mile route through city and suburban streets in Brisbane, a statement from the university said.

Men didn`t fare any better on the tests than women, Anstey found.

Blind spot errors were the most common mistake, followed by veering across lanes and failure to use turn signals.

During the tests, 17 percent made critical and potentially hazardous mistakes that required the driving instructor to hit the brake or grab the steering wheel.

The rate of critical errors during the driving test quadrupled from the youngest group, aged 70 to 74, which had an average of less than one critical error, to the oldest group, aged 85 to 89 with an average of almost four critical errors.

IANS