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Capturing the serial nature of older drivers’ responses towards challenging events: A simulator study

Accident Analysis & Prevention
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2009.07.010
  • Ageing
  • Simulator
  • Serial And Parallel Processing
  • Surprising Events
  • Attention


Abstract Older drivers’ ability to trigger simultaneous responses in reaction to simulated challenging road events was examined through crash risk and local analyses of acceleration and direction data provided by the simulator. This was achieved by segregating and averaging the simulator's primary measures according to six short time intervals, one before and five during the challenging events. Twenty healthy adults aged 25–45 years old ( M = 29.5 ± 4.32) and 20 healthy adults aged 65 and older ( M = 73.4 ± 5.17) were exposed to five simulated scenarios involving sudden, complex and unexpected maneuvres. Participants were also administered the Useful Field of View (UFOV), single reaction time and choice reaction time tests, a visual secondary task in the simulator, and a subjective workload evaluation (NASA-TLX). Results indicated that the challenging event that required multiple synchronized reactions led to a higher crash rate in older drivers. Acceleration and orientation data analyses confirmed that the drivers who crashed limited their reaction. The other challenging events did not generate crashes because they could be anticipated and one response (braking) was sufficient to avoid crash. Our findings support the proposal (Hakamies-Blomqvist, L., Mynttinen, S., Backman, M., Mikkonen, V., 1999. Age-related differences in driving: are older drivers more serial? International Journal of Behavioral Development 23, 575–589) that older drivers have more difficulty activating car controls simultaneously putting them at risk when facing challenging and time pressure road events.

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