Senior Drivers Struggle with Scanning for Accident Hazards

As many lawyers have noted, senior drivers are much more likely to be involved in certain types of accidents, like right-of-way accidents at intersections.  A new study tries to establish the reasons for this, and finds that these motorists are more likely to struggle with identifying accident hazards.

The researchers were looking at the reasons why seniors are involved in a disproportionate number of accidents at intersections.  They put senior citizens above the age of 70 through a driving simulator, and found that the main reason for these accident risks was that senior citizens failed to scan for potential hazards in the environment, especially those that were approaching from the side.  However, the good news is that drivers can be trained to deal with these deficiencies, through a proper training program.

Lawyers believe that these deficiencies may have something to do with the gradual physical and mental decline in seniors.  Their vision may not be as sharp or focused as before.  Further, reflexes may not be as strong as when the motorist was younger.  For example, a senior may be less likely to whip his head to the side to identify potential accident hazards before a collision.

There may also be other factors at work.  For instance, many senior drivers get into the habit of following unsafe driving practices with time.  They get set in their ways as they become older.  For instance, many senior drivers get used to looking for accident hazards directly in front of them.  Over a period on of time, they become used to driving slowly and cautiously in order to avoid hitting a person or object directly in front of them.  Doing so, they possibly miss hazards that are approaching from the side.

http://cdp.sagepub.com/content/21/1/3.full.pdf+html