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Mobility at older age – what do senior citizens think about driving?

It is very important to many people to be able to drive at older age. However, due to physical limitations and fading cognitive capabilities, there are also risks associated with this.  The UDV conducted a research project in order to find out whether and from whom the elderly get feedback on their driving behavior and whether they accept advice on possibly changing their driving behavior or car usage.

The project had three key objectives:

• To investigate whether elderly drivers are approached about the deterioration of their driving skills. The issue of who the elderly would like to be approached by was also examined.

• To identify factors that would facilitate or hinder both an approach and the openness of elderly drivers to receiving feedback on their driving capabilities

• To find out whether the “sicher mobil” seminar program of the German Road Safety Organisation (DVW) on remaining mobile and safe is an approach that is felt by elderly drivers to be appropriate and that also leads to behavior changes.

In interviews with the elderly road users and their family members, it became clear that they are already aware that it can be a risk to drive. However, it emerged that the elderly are rarely approached about their driving capabilities and that it may not be safe for them. There are considerable barriers preventing people from doing this – including barriers between the generations. Interestingly, it was found that doctors rarely address the topic, although the senior citizens identified doctors as the group from which they would accept advice.

The results of the evaluation of the “sicher mobil” program of the German Road Safety Organisation (DVW) show clearly that there this is a very positive framework, and that there are no negative effects. Many of the participants stated that they would be very happy to recommend the program to others. However, it is also important that they were able days after taking part, and in some cases months after taking part, to specify changes they had made to their behavior and were motivated to implement them in their daily life.