Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 January 2015
Driving a car requires adapting one's behavior to current task demands taking into account one's capacities. With increasing age, driving-relevant cognitive performance may decrease, creating a need for risk-reducing behavioral adaptations. Three different kinds of behavioral adaptations are known: selection, optimization, and compensation. These can occur on the tactical and the strategic level. Risk-reducing behavioral adaptations should be considered when evaluating older drivers’ traffic-related risks.
A questionnaire to assess driving-related behavioral adaptations in older drivers was created. The questionnaire was administered to 61 years older (age 65–87 years; mean age = 70.2 years; SD = 5.5 years; 30 female, 31 male) and 31 younger participants (age 22–55 years; mean age = 30.5 years; SD = 6.3 years; 16 female and 15 male) to explore age and gender differences in behavioral adaptations.
Two factors were extracted from the questionnaire, a risk-increasing factor and a risk-reducing factor. Group comparisons revealed significantly more risk-reducing behaviors in older participants (t(84.5) = 2.21, p = 0.013) and females (t(90) = 2.52, p = 0.014) compared, respectively, to younger participants and males. No differences for the risk-increasing factor were found (p > 0.05).
The questionnaire seems to be a useful tool to assess driving-related behavioral adaptations aimed at decreasing the risk while driving. The possibility to assess driving-related behavioral adaptations in a systematic way enables a more resource-oriented approach in the evaluation of fitness to drive in older drivers.