Before honking your horn at the elderly driver just in front of you, keep in mind that there’s a reason said driver is so unhurried. Elderly drivers are half as likely to see pedestrians on the sidewalk due to a limited field of view, and compensate in part by driving more slowly, according to researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
The study was conducted in response to an increasing number of pedestrian-related accidents among drivers aged 65 and up.
Driving simulator tests showed that elderly drivers noticed pedestrians half as often as younger drivers and also took longer to respond to hazardous situations involving pedestrians.
The researchers found that elderly drivers tended to reduce their driving speed by almost 20 percent in order to give themselves more time to respond to hazards and dangers.
The study was recently published in the journal, Accident Analysis and Prevention.
“These findings strengthen the notion that elderly drivers, shown to have a narrower useful field of view, may also be limited in their ability to detect hazards, particularly when outside the center of their view,” said Tal Oron-Gilad, a researcher in the BGU Department of Industrial Engineering.
In the Western world, the driving population of 65-plus is the fastest growing groups.
The research was conducted in BGU’s Human Factors Laboratories, which features a 2008 Cadillac sedan and sophisticated simulation technology. The multidisciplinary laboratory recently developed one of the world’s only pedestrian simulation labs to conduct research on how pedestrians perceive and react to drivers.