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Feedback intervention for senior drivers

In a study on behalf of the German Insurers Accident Research (UDV), a feedback intervention for senior drivers was developed and scientifically evaluated. It consists of a single ride in real traffic accompanied by specialists and is followed by subsequent qualified feedback. It is based on the use of a standardized observation and assessment tool for senior drivers.

In the study the electronic observation and feedback tool ERIKA (Electronic Feedback Instrument on Senior Drivers' Competences) was developed. With the help of ERIKA, the driving behavior of seniors can be systematically observed and evaluated during a ride in real traffic. After the ride, individual feedback is given on the basis of the observations made, pointing out strengths and weaknesses in driving behavior. This is supposed to encourage senior drivers to critically self-reflect and, if necessary, to adapt their driving behavior. The use of this tool ensures a high degree of standardization and transparency and increases the likelihood that even negative feedback will be accepted.

The effectiveness of this feedback intervention was tested in a case-control study with 135 drivers aged between 70 and 91 years. They each were assigned to one of three experimental groups (two experimental and one control group). Every group drove the same route twice at an interval of three months. At both rides the drivers were accompanied by an officially recognised expert or examiner and a psychologist. They registered particularly careful driving behaviour, socially tolerated driving behaviour, and faulty driving behavior. The first experimental group received feedback at the end of the first ride. The second experimental group received feedback at the end of the first ride as well as during the ride. The control group only received short feedback on driving competence after completing the second ride.

As a result drivers who had received feedback on their driving behaviour during or after the first ride showed significantly less driving mistakes during the second ride three months later. This was not the case for drivers of the control group who had not received any feedback. Furthermore, satisfaction with the feedback intervention was high among the senior drivers. Almost all drivers would recommend such an intervention to other drivers of their age group.

This feedback intervention is therefore basically suited as a low-threshold offer to maintain and improve driving skills in older age. It is not meant as a driving test to evaluate the fitness to drive. It is rather an opportunity for senior drivers to preserve their mobility.

Further information on the Electronic Feedback Instrument on Senior Drivers' Competences ERIKA as well as on the scientific development and evaluation of the feedback ride can be found in the research reports.