The most distracted drivers on the road are Baby Boomers, despite the extensive criticism of younger drivers, warns a new report.
The report Distraction and Older Drivers, which was published in the Australia Road Safety Journal, found that older drivers spent 37 per cent of driving time engaged in secondary tasks.
Older drivers’ main distractions were talking to a passenger and adjusting controls on the dashboard.
“While traditionally viewed as a younger driver issue, distracted driving among the older driver cohort is predicted to increase as future generations of older drivers drive more often, and for longer, and embrace technology in increasing numbers,” the report said.
Fatalities and injuries of older drivers have continued to increase while other age groups have fallen or stayed steady.
The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics data from 2007 and 2018, found road fatalities for drivers aged 65 to 74 and 75-plus, have increased 2.3 per cent and 1.2 per cent per annum respectively.
The data also revealed road-related hospitalisations from injury for 65- to 74-year-olds and those aged over 75 had increased 9 per cent in comparison to 1.8 per cent for their younger counterparts.
In the new report, the experts warn that age-related declines make older drivers particularly vulnerable to risks associated with distraction. These include reduced ability to adapt to the dark, loss of hearing, deteriorating eyesight, diminishing attention and slower reaction times.
The research also found Boomers are using technology on the road at a higher rate than previous generations.
“These findings suggest that not only will the current and future generations of older drivers drive more, their growing use of mobile technology, coupled with the increasing number and sophistication of on-board technologies, may mean that their engagement in distracted driving may also escalate,” the report read.
It comes after Victoria’s assistant commissioner Stephen Leane encouraged general practitioners across the state to report any patient who could potentially be a danger on the road. Speaking to the Herald Sun, Leane said stricter measures need to be put in place to ensure everyone is safe behind the wheel.
His views were praised by 4BC reporter Ben Davis who also suggested the introduction of S-plates for senior drivers to help distinguish them on the road. Speaking on Channel Seven’s Sunrise, Davis said the aim would not be to single them out, but to ensure other motorists take more precaution when travelling near them.