Why Pedal Errors Among Older Drivers Are So Common? Study Reveals

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Brain News

Researchers at Nagoya University provided interesting insights into the prevalence of pedal errors among older drivers. The study is published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.

The Study

The researchers surveyed the brains of both elderly people and students while they performed pedal-pressing simulations. They created a new laboratory task to assess the response of a person’s feet and hands when driving a car—particularly when the cognitive load is high.

The results revealed the neural mechanisms that are responsible for elderly drivers causing accidents on the road. The pedal misapplication by older drivers can be attributed to their longer reaction time, slower decision time, and greater brain activation. Most often, older drivers confuse brakes with gas pedals, owing to slower inhibition and lesser ability to switch tasks.

One of the lead researchers, Professor Kawai, explained: “Elderly people who are normally able to drive without any problems, when a cognitive load is applied (such as when switching from one parking space to another or when talking to a passenger), things may be different. [There is a high chance of pedal errors among older drivers], as the performance of older adults is vulnerable in these situations.

To Know More You May Refer To

Kawai, N., & Nakata, R. (2022). Do older adults mistake the accelerator for the brake pedal?: Older adults employ greater prefrontal cortical activity during a bipedal/bimanual response-position selection task. Behavioural brain research432, 113976. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2022.113976

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