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Older drivers’ self-assessed driving skills, driving-related stress and self-regulation in traffic

Transportation Research Part F Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
DOI: 10.1016/j.trf.2012.10.004
  • Older Drivers
  • Gender
  • Driving-Related Stress
  • Driving Avoidance
  • Self-Regulatory Driving
  • Psychology


Abstract Previous research on older drivers has indicated connections between self-rated driving ability, confidence in their own driving, driving-related stress, and self-regulatory behaviour. However, more systematic associations between older drivers’ perceptions on their own driving and self-regulation or driver stress and self-regulation behaviour, and possible gender differences in these, have not been obtained in previous studies. The aim of the present study was to gain a better understanding of older drivers’ self-regulatory driving and the motivators behind this behaviour, by placing this behaviour in the modern traffic psychological framework of the driving task. 888 drivers aged 75 or older completed a structured phone interview about their perceived changes in driving skills, driving-related discomfort, and avoidance of driving situations. The results showed that when reporting change, the participants were more likely to report improvement of higher level skills and decline of the lowest level skills. Women were less likely to report improvement and more likely to report decline of skills. Driving situations related to inner states or adverse conditions were more often associated with discomfort and avoidance than situations related to infrastructure, and women were more likely to report discomfort and avoidance of driving situations. The results suggest that older drivers generally show good self-judgement of changes in their driving skills and acknowledge the different types of skills comprised in the driving task. The results also provide a better understanding of older drivers’ self-regulation of driving and gender differences in this, thus providing a better understanding in particular of women drivers’ self-regulation and increased risk of premature driving cessation. These findings may be valuable when encouraging older drivers, especially women, to prolong their driving.

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