‘Seniors Driving Longer, Smarter, Safer’: An older driver training program

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #303 [2010]

Authors: Michelle Scully, Anna Devlin, Jennie Oxley & Judith Charlton

Full report in .pdf format [443KB]


Mobility is essential for general independence as well as ensuring good health and quality of life, and one of the most relevant and important activities of daily living for maintaining independence is the ability to drive, and this is particularly so for older adults. While it is generally acknowledged that many older drivers are safe and cautious drivers, making appropriate adjustments to their driving and travel behaviour, there is also evidence to suggest that there may be sub-groups of older drivers who do not adopt self-regulatory driving behaviours. These groups may be at higher risk of crash involvement compared with other sub-groups and may benefit greatly from targeted driver awareness, education and training programs. While there is a continued international recognition of the benefits of such programs, there are few existing programs in Australia. To address this gap, a new and innovative education and training program, ‘Seniors Driving Longer, Smarter, Safer’, was developed with the support and sponsorship of the NRMA ACT Road Safety Trust. This report describes the development of the program and a preliminary evaluation of its acceptability and effectiveness.

The aims of the ‘Seniors Driving Longer, Smarter, Safer’ program are to provide groups of older road users with knowledge about crash and injury risk, raise their awareness of the effects of ageing on driving performance and crash risk, and provide tips and strategies on maintaining safe driving practices for as long as possible. In addition, the resource outlines strategies for successful reduction and cessation of driving and alternative transport options for older people. The instructional materials required to operate the program are provided as attachments to this report. These include an instructor’s manual, powerpoint slides, materials for program activities and an information booklet for program participants.

Evaluations of the program were conducted with groups of older drivers to assess the program’s i) effectiveness in changing/improving overall knowledge of safe mobility and adoption of safe driving practices, and ii) acceptability by older drivers themselves. The findings suggested that attendance at the program resulted in a greater awareness of the impact of changing abilities on driving performance, some changed/improved attitudes to important road safety messages, and improvements in some driving behaviours and patterns. Moreover, the great majority of older drivers found the program to be very worthwhile, very informative, educational and useful.

Recommendations for further development and evaluation of the program are made, as well as recommendations for widespread implementation of the program in the community.

Sponsoring organisations - This project was funded by the NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust