Drivers ed isn’t just for teens anymore. New research has found seniors can also benefit from safe-driving educational programs, which may improve their safety — and that of others — on the road in the long run.
The study, published in the journal Human Factors, found seniors who received simulator training and video critiques of their driving performance increased their safe-driving habits significantly — and those improvements had a lasting effect.
In 2009, Matthew R. E. Romoser, a research professor at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, conducted a study that found older drivers were more likely to engage in safe habits on the road — such as scanning for other drivers while negotiating an intersection — after taking a drivers ed course.
For the new study, Romoser followed up to see if participants from that 2009 study retained their safe-driving behaviors. Healthy older drivers, 70-89 years of age, who participated in his previous study agreed to take a new field drive in their own vehicles. Researchers their road-scanning behaviors and other safe-driver habits with a camera system.
The results showed that two years after their training, older drivers still engaged in safe-driving habits on average 73 percent of the time, more than 1.5 times as often before taking the course.
"Training in the form of actively practicing target skills in a simulator provides drivers a means by which to reincorporate previously extinguished behaviors into their driving habits," said Remoser.
The study's results can guide the development of mature-driver retraining programs that might be incorporated into car insurance discount programs or future state licensing regulations, he suggested.
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