Distraction and Older Drivers: An Emerging Problem?
Submission Date: November 15, 2018 Journal
Suggested Citation: Young, K.L., Charlton, J.L., Koppel, S., Grzebieta, R., Williamson, A., Woolley, J. and Senserrick, T. (2018). Distraction and Older Drivers: An Emerging Problem? Journal of the Australasian College of Road Safety, 29(4), 18-29.
Distracted driving is widely recognised as a significant threat to the safety of all road users. Age-related declines in a range of sensory, cognitive and physical processes can, however, make older drivers particularly vulnerable to risks associated with distraction. 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. This paper discusses current knowledge regarding why older drivers are particularly vulnerable to the effects of distracted driving and reviews recent research on older driver distraction engagement and its impact on their driving performance. Also presented, is an Australian case study of older driver secondary task engagement using data from the recently completed Australian Naturalistic Driving Study (ANDS). This case study examined patterns of secondary task engagement during everyday trips among 48 older (60+), middle-aged (43-49 years) and young (22-31 years) drivers. The findings suggest that Australian older drivers do engage in a large number of secondary tasks when driving; however, there is evidence that they self-regulate the type and timing of these tasks.