People’s awareness of their age-related sensory and cognitive deficits and the implications for road safety

Carol Holland, Patrick Rabbitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inevitable declines in sensory abilities may put older drivers and pedestrians at risk unless they become aware of these changes and can safeguard themselves by modifying their behaviour. A questionnaire designed to evaluate older people's awareness of their sensory abilities with regard to road use was administered to 80 individuals aged from 50 to 79 years, who were also given eyesight and hearing tests. Despite marked declines in their objective sensory efficiency, people in their 70s did not rate their sensory abilities as poor any more than did people in their 50s. Individuals of any age who did subjectively perceive declines in their sensory abilities also reported that they had made very sensible adjustments in their road-use behaviour, for example, avoiding complex junctions. Those individuals who reported taking such precautions also reported fewer recent accidents. One month after completing the questionnaire, and being given the results of their eyesight and hearing tests, two-thirds of individuals reported that they had made important changes in their behaviour on the roads. Many now avoided or took particular care in dangerous situations, and some had started to wear prescribed spectacles more appropriately. The implications of older people's lack of awareness of changes in their sensory abilities to their safety on the roads, and in general, are discussed. Factors causing the age-related mismatch between actual and subjectively perceived sensory abilities are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-231
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1992


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