Until now, older drivers have always had lower rates of road accidents and enjoyed reduced insurance premiums as a result. But a new study shows that one of the top five killers on our roads is something over 60s need to be particularly aware of to avoid accidents.
The study, by psychologists at Nottingham Trent University, found over 65s could be more dangerous drivers because they are significantly slower at processing distractions, The Telegraph reports.
While over 65s could process visual information on a screen just as quickly as 18-30 year olds, when what the researchers described as “distracting objects” were added to the screen, the ability to process information became “significantly slower” – up to three times so.
“The work clearly has implications for everyday situations in which visual scenes are composed of multiple objects – our research suggests older people would be significantly slowed in such situations,” said psychologist Dr Duncan Guest, from Nottingham Trent’s School of Social Sciences.
“Drivers, for instance, need to search cluttered visual scenes for targets such as road signs and buildings, while encoding and storing information about multiple other vehicles or hazards.”
He suggested one way to help improve older people’s response times when there were distractions was some form of intervention training.
In today’s more technological world, there are so many opportunities for distraction – a ringing phone, a digital map or the irresistible bleep of a text message.
Let’s talk: do you think you are more distracted on the road these days? And would you say your reaction times have slowed? Have you ever answered a message or taken a phone call while driving?