“Choking Under Pressure” in Older Drivers

Aging can impair executive control and emotion regulation, affecting driver decision-making and behavior, especially under stress. The drivers used an interactive driving simulator to investigate ability to make safe left-turns across oncoming traffic under pressure in 13 older (> 65 years old) and 16 middle-aged (35-56 years old) drivers. Drivers made left-turns at an uncontrolled intersection with moderately heavy oncoming traffic. Gaps between oncoming vehicles varied and increased gradually from 2 s to 10 s. Drivers made two left-turns with a vehicle honking aggressively behind (pressure condition), and two left-turns without the honking vehicle (control condition). Results showed that middle-aged drivers made more cautious turning decisions under pressure (by waiting for larger and safer gaps, p < .001), but older drivers did not. Further, older driver turning paths deviated under pressure compared to the control condition (p < .05), but the middle-aged group did not. Moreover, across all subjects, better executive function was significantly correlated with larger increases of accepted gap size from control to honking (p < .01). The findings suggest that older drivers are more sensitive to traffic challenges from environmental pressure and that neural models of older driver performance and safety must factor in age-related changes in executive control and emotion processing.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 7p
  • Monograph Title: Driving Assessment 2013: Proceedings of the 7th International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driver Assessment, Training, and Vehicle Design

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01493888
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 9780615819723
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 66
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 24 2013 9:12AM