Support Systems Designed for Older Drivers to Achieve Safe and Comfortable Driving
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Background: The number of older people is increasing. Many of them expect to maintain a rich social life and to continue driving at an older age. Objective: The present study investigates the mechanisms behind self-regulation and driving cessation in order to suggest development of support systems to prolong older drivers’ safe mobility. Method: Three focus groups were conducted with 19 older active drivers aged 65+ who were divided according to annual mileage driven. Results: A content analysis revealed broad self-regulatory behaviour as already reported in the literature, e.g., avoiding driving at rush hour and at night. The participants also reported difficulty in finding the way to their final destination and an increasing need to plan their travelling. Co-piloting was a behaviour applied by couples to cope with difficulties encountered in traffic. A large part of the discussion was focused on emerging feelings of stress, anxiety and fear when driving in recent years, a feeling induced by external factors e.g., other road users’ behaviour, traffic density or high speed. Apart from health problems, high levels of stress could explain driving cessation, especially for women. An increased feeling of safety and comfort could be achieved by an increased use of support systems specifically designed to respond to older drivers’ needs. Conclusion: Support systems for older drivers should increase comfort and decrease their stress levels. New systems, such as co-pilot function and more developed Global Positioning System (GPS) supporting of the entire travel from door to door, should be developed to respond to the market needs.
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