For many Australians, driving is more than a means of transportation. Access to a personal automobile and the ability to ‘hop in the car’, over time, becomes intertwined in our daily lives, synonymous with our independence and essential to our quality of life and sense of self. In the absence of disease or disability, few individuals consider a future that does not include driving. However, for older adults, driving cessation often becomes a reality they are required to negotiate. Recognition of the importance of driving, alongside acknowledgement of the considerable inter-individual variability in the effects of age- and disease-related decline on driving ability, has prompted the shift from restrictive to supportive approaches to older driver safety. Driving self-regulation refers to the changes older drivers voluntarily introduce into their driving behaviour to compensate for self-perceived changes in skill level or driving confidence. This gradual reduction in driving exposure and avoidance of risky internal and external states has been viewed as a means through which older drivers can maintain a safe level of mobility. For this practice to be effective, the self-regulatory practices of older adults should match their functional driving skills, and as such, are dependent upon their capacity (and willingness) to accurately self-monitor their driving ability and appropriately adjust their driving behaviour. This research had four aims: 1) to develop and validate a measure of driving self-regulation that distinguishes compensatory from non- compensatory driving behaviour; 2) to distinguish between older drivers who possess the capacity to effectively evaluate their driving skills and those who do not; 3) to determine the influence of neuropsychological and psychosocial factors in explaining instances of unawareness in older drivers; and 4) to examine whether the degree of compensatory driving behaviour reported differs between older drivers with intact awareness and those with neuropsychologically and/or psychosocially based unawareness.
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