There is evidence that older drivers are more anxious than average and limit their driving journeys as a result. In an aging population, there is value in gaining a better understanding of actual risks and 'myth-busting' situations where older drivers might be limiting themselves unnecessarily.
There is evidence that older New Zealand drivers are more anxious around their driving safety, and consequently are limiting their journeys more than other older driver groups, including those in Australia. Driving anxiety even impacts “young older drivers”, with about 3 in 10 drivers aged 55-72 being impacted. This may be related to the manner in which “self-regulation” messages have been presented to them.
For an aging population, it is important to understand the actual risks by delivering easily accessible evidence around actual safety in different driving conditions, as well as busting myths around journeys where older drivers may be limiting themselves unnecessarily.
This research produced 3 key outputs:
(1) 'Single Point of Truth'
Existing data from a variety of sources was utilised to develop a 'Single Point of Truth' around older driver safety and mobility. Sources include the Ministry of Transport Household Travel Survey, Police Crash reporting data, the Driver Licensing Database, and Statistics NZ Demographic Projections. The existing situation was addressed along with the future projected impact of demographic change on safety and mobility.
Single Point of Truth - Report
(2) Driver Perceptions Survey
A survey of AA members explored the trips the older cohorts of drivers make, their quantum of driving, and specific conditions they perceive as safer or to be avoided as well as how that may have changed over time.
These perceptions were compared with actual safety. Two sub-groups were examined:
Those that have been through the AA's Senior Driver Coaching Sessions (run by the AA Driving School) to see if this group has different driver behaviours or risk perceptions.
Non-driving AA members were invited to participate to find out why they are not driving, how they are travelling, and how that fits their aspirations.
Relevant previous AA members’ surveys that inform changing perceptions and behaviours over time were incorporated (including the “Safe Driving for a Lifetime” 2014 report).
(3) The Role of Infrastructure
A best practice review of infrastructure improvements which would be advantageous for an older driving population in New Zealand (e.g., lighting, delineation, sight distances, reflection). Most existing standards are based on the needs of relatively young cohorts.
Why is the AA interested?
The safety of older drivers is a growing issue because of our aging population.
The findings from this research project will be of interest to government agencies, others working in the transport sector, and organisations providing services for older people. It also offers useful insights for the AA and AA Members.
- William Frith - WSP
- Jared Thomas - WSP
- Simon Douglas – AA Research Foundation
Project Steering Group
- Simon Douglas - AA Research Foundation
- Peter King - AA Research Foundation
- Jack Bergquist - AA Driving School
Page last updated: September 2023