Older drivers, as a group, are suffering from age-related functional deteriorations and a higher fatality rate than the average driver. They tend to self-regulate their driving practices by avoiding challenging driving situations and places and driving less, more slowly and more cautiously than other age groups. Meanwhile, very often there is no alternative to the car for older people with functional decline, especially in rural locations, whilst due to economic conditions people will be expected to work longer, up to and beyond the age of 70. Thus, retaining their car-based mobility can have significant societal benefits including economic, health, and well-being.
We recognise the importance of maintaining car-based mobility of older people in order to meet social inclusion, general well-being and economic objectives. One of the outstanding research areas at Transport Operations Research Group has been to support independent mobility of older drivers by engaging them with in-vehicle technologies. Our works have received enormous support from Voice North and its members.
Dr Amy Guo led the older driver study to explore technological solutions for keeping older driver driving safely for longer.
To establish the basis of the study, we carried out nine focus groups with 82 older drivers, and seven telephone interviews with policy makers and experts in the field of driving and road safety. We then conducted an on-road study with 18 older drivers to prioritise the types of support ageing drivers needed and a close investigation of safe driving measures. Upon identifying the potential technological solutions and key safe driving measures, we involved 60 older drivers in the simulator-based studies to test technologies such as intelligent speed adaptation for speed management and new concepts for a navigation system for older drivers; 22 participated in the usability investigation using driver diaries; 31 performed a 10-mile urban-driving using an instrumented vehicle to examine the differences in visual scanning behaviour between older drivers and expert drivers.
All our older participants were members of the Voice North. They have contributed in their experience, ideas, insights and visions. The research outputs have been published in 3 journal papers and presented at 3 national and 6 international conferences.