Accepted Paper:

Be(com)ing an older driver: references to age-related challenges in voluntary post-licence training  


Mirka Rauniomaa (University of Oulu, Finland)

Paper short abstract:

The presentation examines audio-video recordings of older drivers participating in voluntary post-licence training in real traffic and in real time, focusing on how the drivers view and present themselves as 'older drivers' through descriptions of possibly age-related challenges in the activity.

Paper long abstract:

A key concern in maintaining an active, autonomous lifestyle at an older age is mobility, i.e. the possibility for individuals to participate in activities outside their immediate home environment. Private car travel, for one, enables older members of society to continue leading mobile lives but requires skills and abilities that they may be losing or lacking. In this study, I examine how older drivers themselves take up possibly age-related changes in their ability to drive. I adopt a highly empirical, conversation-analytic approach and draw on audio-video recordings of voluntary post-licence training for older drivers. The drivers are older women (aged 59-70 years) who have a valid driving licence but who have not driven a car for a long time and have little driving experience overall.

I focus on cases where a driver refers to some challenges that she faces in driving and handling the vehicle, e.g. looking at meters on the dashboard or positioning herself appropriately inside the car. These challenges are treated as possibly age-related and potentially problematic for the current activity. Close analyses of the participants' use of language, bodily conduct and engagement with material surrounds reveal how they view and present themselves as 'older drivers'. The analyses also show how the drivers, in interaction with the instructor, deal with incipient difficulties or pre-empt potential difficulties. Moreover, an examination of these actual instances of voluntary post-licence driver training gives insight into how opportunities to be guided, to practise driving and to continue being mobile in effect emerge.

Panel P29
Aging as a placed experience: the fluidity of different modes of relationships