Older Drivers Seem More Distracted Behind the Wheel

Distracted Driver

If you were a teenager in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s, the worst thing you could do while driving was look down to change the radio station, put a cassette tape in, or scan a CD for your favorite song. Aside from adjusting your music, there really was not much else in the car to distract you except for other people riding with you. Times are different now, and with the technological bells and whistles available in cars, trucks, and SUV’s today comes a new problem—drivers tend to be more distracted while behind the wheel of their car. 

Whether it’s looking at their cell phone, GPS, or dashboard, the distractions in today’s vehicles are numerous, and some drivers are handling the advanced technology better than others. According to recent studies, older drivers are taking their eyes off the road longer than younger drivers, which is contributing to more traffic accidents with fatalities and injuries.

In-Vehicle Information Systems

The American Automobile Association (AAA) released a report on its website, Foundation for Traffic Safety, and indicated that “Older drivers, ages 55-75, are more likely to be distracted by all the bells and whistles on the dashboard. On average, their eyes came off the road more than eight seconds longer than younger drivers (ages 21-36).” According to AAA, which provides roadside assistance, taking your eyes off the road while driving for only two seconds doubles your risk of crashing.

The study examined drivers’ use of In-Vehicle Information Systems (IVIS), the likes of which you’ll find in many cars, trucks, and SUV’s on the road today. Some of these systems are standard while many are options that some drivers find irresistible.

According to the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan (UMTRI), “In-vehicle information systems include specialized traffic information systems, cell phones, text messaging, email, vehicle diagnostics, and, in some situations, warning systems and emergency help systems.” The goal of these systems is to provide information to the driver without interfering in the driving of the vehicle. 

Challenges Older Drivers Face

According to the National Institute on Aging, as we age, our bodies and our minds go through many changes, and a decline in certain faculties as a natural part of the aging process will affect our ability to drive.

Older drivers will face the following challenges making it more difficult to handle the complexities of In-Vehicle Information Systems found in many cars today:

  • Loss of hearing
  • Decline in eyesight
  • Slower reflexes and reaction time
  • Stiff joints and muscles making it more difficult to react quickly

David Strayer, a professor of cognition and neural science at the University of Utah and one of the study’s authors, said the recent study confirms “technology-laden vehicles have too much going on.” While older drivers have the resources to afford cars with IVIS, they are having more difficulty using those systems.

Stayer said, “The car is now becoming as complicated as a complex plane in many cases. You’ve got 200 buttons and all kinds of screens and voice commands.”

If you or someone you love is injured in an auto accident as the result of a distracted driver, talk to an experienced accident attorney in your area. Time may be limited for you to receive legal help.

Lynn Fugaro About Lynn Fugaro

Lynn has been writing web content since 2007 after a lengthy career as a middle school English teacher and administrator. Writing web content seemed a natural progression following a career teaching adolescents about the beauty and the power of the written word, and she quickly got hooked on the challenge of writing SEO- and reader-friendly content that could be found on Page 1 of Google and other search engines.

Having written content for physicians and attorneys for the first few years of her writing career, Lynn has most recently produced original, informative, entertaining, and relevant content for the entertainment industry, the automotive industry, senior communities, pet rescues and numerous other businesses hoping to increase website traffic and page views for all clients looking for informative, vibrant content.