When Older Drivers Excel
April 16, 2010
Though younger drivers are widely believed to have quicker reaction times, drivers with more experience behind the wheel are more aware of potential hazards of the road.
For a study that appears in the July issue of Accident Analysis and Prevention, researchers [from Ben-Gurion University] shot six short films through a car windshield. Each film included unplanned, potentially hazardous events, but four also contained a planted, “highly hazardous” situation, such as someone driving recklessly further up the road.
The researchers recruited 21 young drivers (average driving experience: less than three months), 19 experienced drivers (with seven years of driving experience) and 16 elderly drivers (more than 37 years experience). The participants were told to press a button when they saw a hazardous situation in the films.
After seeing a major hazard the young, inexperienced drivers were less likely than the others to report smaller, potential hazards, such as children walking near the curb.
Using an eye-tracking device, the researchers also found that more experienced drivers were more likely to watch for merging traffic. At the two T-intersections in the films, experienced drivers tended to look to the right, where cars might be preparing to turn into the driver’s lane, while younger drivers tended to look straight ahead.