Young Adults Perceptions Of Senior Citizens Driving Abilities

A survey has been conducted to analyze and interpret the perceptions of young people regarding the driving capabilities of senior citizens in our part of the world. They (young people) further fall in the category of young adults and older adults.  The survey which was conducted for three weeks determines whether senior citizens are more vigilant or unable to respond much to their surroundings while driving. This has been given an opinion to by young people. Their age ranges start from 18 onwards.

The questionnaire is based on thirty three questions which include questions relation to age, gender, ethnicity and a few statements.

It was a random sample selected out of the young subjects chosen to answer our survey.

On the other hand, a lot depends upon people’s level of education to create opinions, especially for an issue such as this. The mode of transportation also matters according to whether the individual is using a car, bus, train, motorcycle or any other means of transportation. For certain statements people have been asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 stands for ‘strongly disagree’ and 5 stands for ‘strongly agree’.

In our part of the world, there happens to be quite a number of senior citizens who are still driving, a few of them are even found to be in their 80’s and 90’s and therefore, we tried to determine whether they should still be driving or not given the safety issues on roads and highways.

Literature Review:

Driving by senior citizens could raise great concerns for some whilst it could be thought of as a norm by the others. Some have argued that elderly people often claim a false younger age in order to keep driving and, therefore, pave way to accident related risks on the road (Anonymous, 2004). Similarly, senior citizens do not consider accident risks to be a problem for themselves, instead they take it as a problem for their friends and family and thus, think of having the required skills to avoid or tackle any such problem.

On the other hand, it is known that those of the senior citizens who drive are more agile and less likely to be subjected to illness, especially those related to aging life, in this way an individual’s dependence would be reduced as long as he or she is able to drive and get daily chores done without much of help taken from others. Eventually, they are saved from diseases like osteoporosis and obesity (Anonymous, 2004).

Some elderly drivers give up driving because of health related issue; however, some are advised to give up if they are diagnosed with diseases such as ‘Dementia’ as their driving could be impaired (Hole 2006). Unfortunately, some still drive no matter how much they are advised not to or even if their driving licenses are annulled. However, according to Hole, about 30% to 45% of dementia diagnosed drivers still continue to drive. Tests such as, Mini Mental Status Examination (MMSE) to measure mental competences have been devised to get to know the driving capability of elderly drivers (Hole, 2006).

However, there is found to be almost no difference between those suffering from dementia and those who have been into an accident. As Hole has elaborated, a lot could be related to difficult driving situations such as, night, heavy rainfall or heavy traffic. Visual or hearing impaired elderly drivers are reported to have more avoidance than those who are not impaired and so are the ones (avoid) who have been involved in ‘at fault’ accidents in the previous five years.

According to the investigation by Marottolli and Richardson (1998), it was found out that a lot of senior citizen drivers underrate their driving abilities and are not sure about them as they perceptions are low. Their control group was based on 125 elderly drivers falling in the age range of 77 and above. The purpose was to find out the relationship of their driving capabilities and self confidence when it comes to driving and recognition by themselves of their driving performance.

Driving tests were carried out and some were rated in terms of their driving history, such as, that related to violation or accidents in the last five years. 32% of them rated as being the same as other drivers of their age, 24% rated themselves as being comparatively much better than older senior citizen drivers of their age, whereas, 40% rated themselves as better in some way than others.  In relative terms, none of the self rated drivers rated themselves as being relatively worse than the drivers of their own age.

 

Thirty four or 68% of these drivers with a history of road crashes or violations were found to rate themselves as being better than other drivers of their age when it comes to driving. In Marottoli and Richardsons’ control group, nine of the drivers with individual ratings of severe or moderate difficulties rated themselves as being at least as much better as other drivers of the same age.  On the other hand, the group’s self rating was not in terms of any of the problems in the past, such as, the history of accidents or violations or their performance on the road.

Marotolli and Richardson have concluded that driving tests or an individual’s history of crashes and violations in the past to not determine his/her driving performance. However, self confidence in driving capability and self ratings are dependent on frequent driving and others also. Given the rating to these 27% as having some major difficulties and 40% of them having bad driving related history, all of them were found to have self rated themselves as being a better driver. They also found out that driving ability does not impact an individual’s self rating level of their self confidence (Hole, 2006).

Estimates in the United States have shown that Dementia occurs in at least 15% of senior citizens who age above 65 (Anonymous, 2004). The most prominent form happens to be Alzheimer’s disease, which results in forgetfulness and declining or slow performance of chores.

Tidwell and Doyle (Anonymous, 2004) conducted a research on pedestrians and traffic related signals by surveying almost five thousand people. They came to a conclusion that traffic rules and pedestrian laws are not quite properly understood by the general public. They found out that less than a half of those surveyed knew that the ‘Don’t walk’ signal means that they are supposed to return to the foot path.  Most seem to be oblivious to this message which means: ‘Do not cross’.  Most elderly pedestrians thought that the ‘Walk’ signal guarantees their safety while crossing and that there would not be any turning conflicts present. Hence, they seemed to be in conflicting thoughts and did not know what to do when they have started crossing before the ‘Do not walk’ signal is flashed (Anonymous, 2004). For the safety of people, especially for senior citizens, it is of utmost importance that traffic rules and driving laws are fully incorporated in the minds of people. Such confusion should be dealt with so that people know how to respond to signals when it comes to senior citizens driving or walking on the roads.

Car accidents could turn out to be more fatal for senior citizens driving than for young people and for this reason, car accidents could be more hazardous for people over the age of seventy (Senior Citizens Driving). Young victims healing process is rapid, whereas, for the elderly, this process could be extremely slow or almost nonexistent, resulting in their death. Similarly, people age in differing manner, therefore, their driving performance would vary with their age and any health problems they face. There are many risk factors that could have an adverse effect on the driving ability of senior citizens (Senior Citizens Driving). These factors could be, hearing loss, visual decline, mobility related problems, drowsiness and as discussed earlier, dementia which could result in delayed reaction time. Older people are more inclined towards being inflicted by insomnia which could result in drowsiness in the day time while driving. Likewise, senior citizens on medication should know the pros and cons of the drugs they are taking before they start to drive, accidents of elderly people are also attributed to certain medications which could slow down reaction time or make them feel sloppy.

Driving by senior citizens has been stereotyped by many and dealt with mockery. Often it is referred to as ‘elderly driver problem’ (Crotty, 2001). Accordingly, age is not exactly a problem for driving; all that matters is the ability to drive no matter what age bracket an individual falls in. Often the term ‘accident’ is euphamised as ‘crash’ and even if accidents have senior citizens driving, the blame is put on their driving abilities irrespective of any lack or ignorance of medication that would have caused it.

Likewise, containers involved in accidents of elderly drivers try out their utmost effort to be called a victim themselves and to put the blame on elderly drivers. They even blame the local media for putting up provocative coverage of accidents of senior drivers and then their families are caused further worries. Often support of situational factors is tried be taken into account but still towards the end of the day the senior citizens are called to be at fault. However, age is not a factor that could cause accidents even young people could have been found involved in road crashes due to their reckless driving.