Who is the biggest risk on our roads –young drivers or old drivers?
The answer – without a doubt – is our younger drivers! Even though they might have sharper reflexes, their attitude and driving habits pose far greater risks to other road users. Older drivers not only have far greater driving experience –but also the commons sense and knowledge to adapt their driving and to anticipate risks on the road!
Study on drivers and the awareness of road risks
Though younger drivers are widely believed to have quicker reaction times, drivers with more experience behind the wheel are more aware of potential hazards of the road. For a study that appears in the July issue of Accident Analysis and Prevention, researchers shot six short films through a car windshield.
Each film included unplanned, potentially hazardous events, but four also contained a planted, “highly hazardous” situation, such as someone driving recklessly further up the road. The researchers recruited 21 young drivers (average driving experience: less than three months), 19 experienced drivers (with seven years of driving experience) and 16 elderly drivers (more than 37 years experience).
The participants were told to press a button when they saw a hazardous situation in the films. After seeing a major hazard the young, inexperienced drivers were less likely than the others to report smaller, potential hazards, such as children walking near the curb. Using an eye-tracking device, the researchers also found that more experienced drivers were more likely to watch for merging traffic. At the two T-intersections in the films, experienced drivers tended to look to the right, where cars might be preparing to turn into the driver’s lane, while younger drivers tended to look straight ahead.
[Caveat: The researchers measured how long drivers took to recognize a hazard, but not how, or how quickly, they would respond. Vigilance, perception and response times could be significantly different in real driving situations.]
Younger drivers and fatal accidents in South Africa
The results from this study become even more important when we reflect on the 2009 Fatal Crash report in South Africa.
These statistics reveal that far more young drivers are the involved in and victims of fatal crashes!
Conclusion and Advice on Car Insurance for different age groups
It is well known that young drivers and elderly drivers have more difficulty in finding affordable car insurance. The above data might justify the higher insurance premiums imposed by car insurance companies on younger drivers.
This does however also strengthen the argument from the elderly that they are perhaps unfairly penalized – and that they are actually much safer drivers….
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