HomeLifeDriveWhy older drivers can be more prone to bad habits, according to...

Why older drivers can be more prone to bad habits, according to an expert

Aussies love their cars, but driving as you get older comes with a unique set of challenges. Long-time motoring journalist Paul Murrell is the man behind seniordriveraus.com, a website dedicated to Aussie drivers over 50.

Mr Murrell, who is also a frequent YourLifeChoices contributor, joined host John Deeks on the podcast this week to discuss three subjects: the entrenchment of bad driving habits as you get older, whether or not electric vehicles (EVs) live up to the hype and the continuing (and perplexing) rise of the e-scooter on our roads.

Teaching an old dog new tricks

We’re all guilty of a few bad habits on the road. Whether it’s consistently sitting 5km/h over the speed limit, or sneaking through the yellow light when you probably shouldn’t, most drivers break the rules a little from time to time.

These events might seem insignificant, but if most drivers are doing the wrong thing at least some of the time, you can see that the potential for accidents shoots up dramatically for everybody.

Mr Murrell says that older people can be particularly prone to having entrenched bad habits they’ve had for decades.

He says testing requirements were simply not as stringent as in years past, a point Mr Deeks agrees with.

“I can remember my dad giving the local policeman a slab of beer or something and I had to drive down and pick up his dry-cleaning and come back. That was my driving test many years ago,” Mr Deeks says.

Mr Murrell says he probably wouldn’t be able to pass a driving test if he had to do it today, despite his many years behind the wheel.

“We get in a car and we think this is all fine; I’ve been doing it forever,” he says.

“So, we tend to be a little less observant, we tend to concentrate a little less and we tend to be a little more distracted [than a newer driver].”

EVs – worth the hype?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably noticed the increasing presence of EVs on our roads, and being pushed in the media. Depending on who you listen to, we could all be driving an EV by 2030.

But are they all they promise to be? Are they really going to be able to replace the traditional combustion engine car in all areas? Mr Murrell has his doubts.

“When it comes to EVs, it’s hard to understand how much of it is genuine and how much of it is PR spin,” he says.

Mr Murrell notes that a number of leading car hire firms have recently reduced the number of EVs in their fleets, citing high running and repair costs as the reason.

“That’s interesting, isn’t it?” he says.

“Because one of the things we’ve been told about electric vehicles [is that] they have fewer moving parts, [so] servicing costs by definition should be lower, which would lead me to believe then that the repair costs should also be lower.”

Mr Murrell says many people have bought an EV with the best of intentions, only to find it unsuitable for their needs. For instance, if you regularly need to drive long distances.

“It’s very, very important to look at your usage pattern and decide if an electric vehicle is going to suit,” he says.

“For a lot of people who do long distances your battery-run electric vehicle is not going to be quite so suitable.

“Because if you’re going to do five or 600 kilometres, you’d have to stop somewhere along the way there and recharge the car. So, you really need to look at your usage pattern and do some research on it.”

The rise of the e-scooter

On the subject of new vehicles on our roads, Mr Deeks brings the conversation to the subject of e-scooters. These electrically powered scooters are a common sight in the major cities, but are probably less common in rural areas.

Anybody can hire one of these scooters without a licence, and they can travel at speeds of up to 30km/h in some instances. They operate mostly silently and there have been hundreds of run-ins with pedestrians, in some instances requiring admission to hospital.

Mr Murrell says much the problem is not with the scooters themselves, but rather with confusing ‘shared path’ rules that see the two groups mix. He says the e-scooter hire companies themselves need to be held to account more.

It comes down to courtesy, he says, but as a shared pathway of bike lanes and footpaths, allowances have to be made.

“I’m not a great believer in over-legislating these things. But certainly with the rental scooters, the companies that rent these things out, they’re making money out of it, they should be held to account to ensure that these issues are addressed.”

What are some of your bad driving habits? Would you consider buying an EV? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Why EVs are causing more motion sickness

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. Why do we bother with click bait articles that tend to try and divide different groups, must be some sort of human condition, but here goes. Older drivers are far better drivers than younger drivers, it’s not because they have deeply entrenched bad driving habits, it’s the exact opposite, they have deeply entrenched good driving habits something that is missing from today’s younger drivers, good driving habits come from years of actual experience, things like indicating which seems to be an option nowadays, tailgating seems to be more prevalent today, cutting in on other road users is a normal practice because when I learned to drive it was drilled into us to look ahead and plan, today it seems to be pull into your preferred lane and let other people adjust their space to allow you in, even if it means braking sharply to avoid a collision.
    End note there are bad drivers in all age groups, I have driven trucks and busses in urban and country areas and everyone can behave badly especially in cities like Sydney, click bait response over😏

    • Spot on. Ask a younger driver to reverse parallel park on the side of a road and they freak out. Unless there is room to drive forward they can’t do it. Rear cameras have saved some though.

  2. The article on older drivers failed to produce one shred of evidence that they are worse drivers than any other age group. Accidents show a high percentage of young ones stoned on drugs or alcohol. They also tend to be over-confident and make numerous lane-changes to demonstrate their “skills.” Older drivers use strategies to avoid problems. Keeping up with moving traffic is important, while avoiding tail-gating. Older drivers tend to be more courteous; letting other drivers change lanes, rather than failing to give way, which is dangerous. Older drivers slow down to let people join the freeway. A safe journey is their goal, rather than attempting to prove their expertise by sudden and foolish moves.

  3. Paul Murrell is showing his age. Technology will eventually improve EV’s as time goes by, the same as motor vehicles built in the sixties and todays petrol driven vehicles. This equally applies to many household items, such as washing machines, microwaves, tv’s, computers, etc. Unless Paul and/or his wife still use a old wringer, TV’s built in the seventies, etc. etc.

  4. The owners manual of my first car (1965) had this comment in it. “A good driver can see an accident building up, and take action to avoid it” This has always stayed in my mind when driving. It entails being aware of not only the things going on that affect you in the moment, but what other drivers or factors might be coming into play. Young drivers of today (not all) are sadly prone to an attitude of entitlement where their rights supersede everyone else’s. They are therefor often blissfully unaware of an impending disaster until it is too late to avoid. But that’s OK, then you simply look for a ‘no win, no fee’ lawyer to get you out of the mess you could have avoided.

  5. Absolute rubbish there are bad drivers of every age. I actually concentrate more now that I’m older without the added distraction of when you’re younger playing loud music and singing along, further down the line screaming kids in the back seat. It is so annoying when these stupid statements are made. These sort of articles try to put a divide between generations.

  6. What a load of garbage. Paul Murrell might be losing it and have bad habits but that doesn’t necessarily apply to all of us. Are these articles published just to get a rise out of people or because the editorial staff fit the bill?

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