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An Exploratory Study on Elderly Traffic Crime
An Exploratory Study on Elderly Traffic Crime
December 31, 2021


The rapid pace by which today’s population is aging has an effect on the pattern of crime occurrence; thus, social concerns regarding elderly crime are rising. In particular, traffic crimes (e.g., traffic accidents) instigated by elderly drivers are new social problems. Since road traffic experiences have long been a part of people’s everyday lives, traffic crime occurrences are also closely linked to their daily lives. Despite this tight connection, traffic crimes have not received much attention in the field of criminology until now. Particularly, empirical discussions on elderly traffic crimes are lacking, even though Korean society is on the brink of becoming a super-aged society. There is the need for an empirical study that provides basic data in understanding the patterns of occurrence and characteristics of elderly traffic crimes. Accordingly, this study was conducted as the basic research for finding measures to prevent elderly traffic crimes. The aim was to offer policy implications on this issue by examining perceptions related to road traffic and the experiences of elderly people aged 65 and older and their traffic crime occurrence patterns and characteristics. Major research outcomes are described below. First, according to basic characteristics related to driving, the elderly study participants drove less frequently than the younger participants, recording both shorter traveling distances and time on a daily average. They also responded less positively to questions on physical functional levels and driving abilities compared to their younger counterparts. Such patterns were even more apparent in people aged 75 and older. Second, regarding difficulties when driving, compared to their younger counterparts, the elderly responded that they had difficulty when another vehicle suddenly cut in or when changing lanes, driving when the road was slippery from snow or rain, driving at night, and checking traffic signs ahead of them while driving. It was also found that people aged 75 and older experienced than earlier stage elderly people. Third, regarding attitudes toward policies, more elderly than younger people opposed shortening the driver’s license renewal period based on age. Positive responses for voluntarily returning one’s driver’s license to the government were higher for both age groups, but the elderly study participants indicated a higher anticipated age for returning their licenses than their younger counterparts. Fourth, compared to the non-elderly drivers, the elderly drivers showed lower rates for experiencing traffic law violations, such as using cell phones while driving and engaging in violent driving (e.g., aggressive driving and road rage). Such tendencies were even more evident in people aged 75 and older. Fifth, there were no significant differences between the two age groups in experience of drink driving and traffic accidents. Sixth, although factors affecting elderly people’s experiences with traffic crimes varied by the types of crimes, household income and the perception of social disorder were common influencing factors across different crimes, except for drink driving . The elderly study participants with higher household income levels were more likely to commit traffic crimes. They cited more frequent circumstances related to social disorder, such as a greater number of drivers who violated traffic laws or those who did not yield or show consideration for others. Seventh, in the case of the elderly population studied, those who had violated traffic laws were much more likely to commit other traffic crimes, such as engaging in violent driving or drink driving compared to their non-elderly counterparts. The discussion resulting from the findings of this study addresses the need to establish a safe driving and traffic culture that includes following traffic laws, building traffic-engineered road conditions that take the elderly into consideration, improving the educational system regarding the elderly, and carrying out active discussions on criminal justice policies for elderly traffic crimes. In this study, the current state, characteristics, and related factors of elderly traffic crimes were examined in order to better understand elderly people as drivers in the rapidly approaching super-aged society. It is expected that the study’s findings may be used as basic data when preparing policies for the prevention of traffic crimes curated for the elderly driving population.

Soohyeong Choi

Crime Trends&Analysis

Senior Research Fellow

Soohyeong Choi's picture

Research Interest (Major)

Criminal Sociology

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