BEER-SHEVA, Israel, March 7 (UPI) -- Elderly drivers are half as likely as others to see pedestrians on the sidewalk due to a limited field of view, researchers in Israel suggest.
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev studied reaction times and perception of pedestrians as hazards, comparing experienced elderly and non-elderly drivers.
Tal Oron-Gilad and colleagues used two evaluation methods -- driving in a traffic simulator while watching video of traffic scenes and identifying hazardous situations by pressing a button.
The video observation method showed that elderly drivers took longer to respond to pedestrian hazards. The simulator drive test revealed the elderly performed "braking actions" half as often as the non-elderly group in response to pedestrians on sidewalks and shoulders.
The elderly group compensated by reducing their driving speed by almost 20 percent, providing them more time to process the potential hazards and dangers, even if they couldn't detect them.
"These findings strengthen the notion that elderly drivers, shown to have a narrower useful field of view, may also be limited in their ability to detect hazards, particularly when outside the center of their view," Oron-Gilad said in a statement.
More research is needed, Oron-Gilad said, but "authorities should be aware of these limitations and increase elderly drivers' awareness of pedestrians by posting traffic signs or dedicated lane marks that inform them of potential upcoming hazards."
The findings are published online in Accident Analysis and Prevention.