Driving retraining classes may offer an opportunity to attenuate some effects of aging that may alter driving skills. Unfortunately, there is evidence that classroom programs (driving refresher courses) do not improve the driving performance of older drivers. The aim of the current study was to evaluate if simulator training sessions with video-based feedback can modify visual search behaviors of older drivers while changing lanes in urban driving.
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the video-based feedback training, 10 older drivers who received a driving refresher course and feedback about their driving performance were tested with an on-road standardized evaluation before and after participating to a simulator training program (Feedback group). Their results were compared to a Control group (12 older drivers) who received the same refresher course and in-simulator active practice as the Feedback group without receiving driving-specific feedback.
After attending the training program, the Control group showed no increase in the frequency of the visual inspection of three regions of interests (rear view and left side mirrors, and blind spot). In contrast, for the Feedback group, combining active training and driving-specific feedbacks increased the frequency of blind spot inspection by 100% (32.3 to 64.9% of verification before changing lanes).
These results suggest that simulator training combined with driving-specific feedbacks helped older drivers to improve their visual inspection strategies, and that in-simulator training transferred positively to on-road driving. In order to be effective, it is claimed that driving programs should include active practice sessions with driving-specific feedbacks. Simulators offer a unique environment for developing such programs adapted to older drivers' needs.