1988-11-01

Older Drivers - Their Perception of Risk 881752

On the basis of established theories, the premise of the paper is that through attitudes and behaviors older drivers demonstrate that their perception of risk is high. A diagrammatic outline lists the physiological, psychological and sociological factors that contribute to their feelings of self-efficacy in the traffic milieu. In the physiological realm are declining functional abilities and chronic illnesses. Psychologically some of them experience fear and anxiety about their vulnerability in a fast, complex traffic world, and in relation to citations, insurance and licensing examinations. Sociologically they must deal with ageism and negative stereotyping. Because of these deprecating circumstances, the older driver may develop compensatory attitudes and behaviors, some of which are positive and contribute to safety and some of which are negative and promote unsafe practices, tin the positive side they become more responsible and law-abiding. They develop a deferential style of driving-non-competing, courteous and cautious. On the negative side they may respond by practicing too much avoidance behavior to maintain their skills (and thus their mobility). Or they may refuse to recognize impairments and deny the existence of any problem. The author suggests interventions are needed that reduce some of the psychological stressors experienced by older drivers and to help them find a better balance between their perception of risk, the reality of risk, and what could bring fewest restrictions and highest safety in driving practices.

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