Why do older drivers have more ‘failed to look’ crashes? A simulator based study

  • Published: Transport Research Laboratory, 2012
  • Authors: Reed, N., Kinnear, N. & Weaver, L.
  • Date Added: 04 Feb 2014
  • Last Update: 25 Oct 2016
  • Format: html


Many studies have shown that older drivers are over-represented in intersection or right of way accidents. ‘Failure to look’ has been identified as the most prevalent contributory factor in these types of crashes. In light of this, the present study aimed to further understand this problem by mapping the correlation between ‘failed to look’ errors and vision deficits in older drivers.


32 participants ranging in ages from 17 years to 75+ years old were divided into four age groups and tested on a number of visual and response tests. These were completed between six different driving scenarios presented on a driving simulator.

Key Findings:

  • Results showed that participants in the older-old group (75+) were unable to detect targets presented more than 180° around from their head position to the left and right (poor neck flexibility).

  • In terms of the driving task, they found that at crossroads, older drivers (64+ years old) spent less time looking left and right when waiting at a crossroads when traffic was present.


‘Failed to look’ crashes; Older drivers; Simulator; Vision; Motor; Cognitive