these questions. The answers to these questions and the solutions provided by the different agencies should be based on sound scientific research rather than on guesswork and unfounded beliefs. Some of the relevant data are already available from the large body of research on aging and driving, but many questions remain open. These issues should be at the focus of the research agenda for the coming years.
In this chapter I address a number of relevant issues. I begin by discussing the transportation needs and driving patterns of older drivers. I review some of the reasons why older drivers might differ from other driver populations and focus on vision as one of the fields in which there is compelling evidence for age related decline in abilities that can affect driving. I then discuss whether older drivers constitute a safety risk (and for whom) and under which conditions they do so. I then review some of the changes that older drivers make to cope with the potential safety problems. I then discuss technologies and new in-vehicle devices and their potential to help older drivers, as well as some of the possible problems that may be associated with these technologies. I end the chapter with a brief discussion of some of the necessary research directions on older drivers in view of the new technologies that are available.
The wish to be able to drive for as long as possible is understandable, given the fact that especially in rural and suburban communities there is often no alternative form of transportation other than a car. A person must use a car to go shopping, to access medical services, to attend social functions, and to visit friends and family (Rosenbloom, 1993). The loss of a driver′s license thus implies losses in many aspects of life, including personal freedom, independence, and the possibility of making useful contributions to society (Waller, 1991; Coughlin, 2001b). For the importance of mobility for the well-being of older people, see also Carp (1988).
Indeed, an increasing number of people continue to drive up to an advanced age, leading to a steady growth in the number of “older old” drivers, those aged 75+ or 80+ according to different definitions (Barr, 1991). Kosnick et al. (1988) report that people 65 years and older use the automobile for 80 percent of their errands and trips. Similarly, Jette and Branch (1992) found that older drivers continue to drive for as long as possible and they resist any change in the preferred mode of travel, although they may lower the frequency of travels. Chipman, Payne, and McDonough (1998) report that 37.5 percent of a sample of Ontario, Canada, drivers aged 80 and over reported that they still drove. Relatively healthy older people were especially likely to drive. Although most of the drivers and the nondrivers suffered from two and more chronic