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Older drivers: are you as good as you think?

Older drivers are better on the roads than most people think, according to a QUT researcher embarking on a new study of motorists over 60.

But it’s what these drivers think of their own ability that interests Dr Philippe Lacherez the most.

Dr Lacherez said most older drivers self-regulated their driving – and whether or not they should be on the road – quite effectively.

But he said previous studies involving this age group had found some of the most dangerous drivers tested had the least insight into the problems they displayed, due to cognitive abilities.

“This project will examine drivers’ perceptions of their own abilities and whether they really are as good – or bad – as they think they are,” Dr Lacherez said.

“Older drivers do tend to get a bad rap but most are safe drivers.

“In frequency terms, it’s the 20-somethings who are most likely to have a crash. But older drivers usually drive shorter distances and have more crashes per kilometre driven.”

The QUT study is seeking older drivers to take part in a driving assessment around Brisbane streets and also complete some simple questionnaires, eye tests and tests involving balance and response times.

Dr Lacherez said the research team needed male and female drivers aged 60 or older who lived in the Brisbane metropolitan area and drove a car more than once a week.

“It’s a good chance to have an assessment of your driving by a qualified driving instructor and an occupational therapist,” Dr Lacherez said.

“Drivers will get feedback on how they went and the results will be used to design tests to help concerned older drivers work out if they are safe to continue driving or if they need some extra training.”

All results are completely confidential.

Dr Lacherez is a member of QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Research (IHBI) and the university’s School of Optometry and Vision Science. His driving project has been funded by an Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation grant.

People interested in taking part in the study can call Dr Lacherez on 07 3138 5713 or email p.lacherez@qut.edu.au. Participants will be provided with parking or taxi vouchers to travel to the venues, and given morning or afternoon tea.

Media contact: Mechelle McMahon, QUT media officer, 07 3138 9449 or media@qut.edu.au

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