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Prevent “failed to look” accidents involving older drivers

Tristan Honeywill

The UK’s Transport Research Laboratory has published a report on why older drivers are over-represented in “failed to look” crashes. The reasearchers concluded that either training or driver assistance technologies may help to tackle the problem.

Various crash studies and surveys have shown that older drivers are particularly over-represented in crashes at intersections, where the older driver turns against oncoming traffic. A recent report identified that ‘failure to look’ was the most common contributory factor in accidents involving older drivers relative to young drivers.

This new study aimed to take this further by investigating the correlation between ‘failed to look’ errors and visuo-cognitive deficits in older drivers.

It found that older drivers tended to have better, safer attitudes to driving. They tend to drive more slowly and so can have the same or better safety margin. However, older drivers in the trial positioned more poorly at crossroads and took less time scanning left and right before pulling out. They also made far fewer glances to the rear-view mirror when driving on the motorway.

Training and/or driver assistance technologies may help to tackle the problem, they conclude. Further evaluation of this would be interesting. Anything that helps to make driving safer for older drivers will sooner or later help us all.

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