Older Driver Support System (ODSS) Usability and Design Investigation

Principal Investigator:

Nichole Morris, Research Associate, Mechanical Engineering

Project Summary:

Older drivers represent the second-highest injury and fatality rate, next to younger drivers, per 10,000 licensed drivers and are first in fatalities per 100 million miles driven. Furthermore, a 286% increase in older driver fatalities is projected from 1995 to 2025. This disproportionate fatality risk is linked to several known factors ranging from maladaptive driving behaviors such as failure to yield, cognitive limitations such as poor visual search, to poor survivability such as lack of seatbelt use and overall fragility. In an effort to reduce older crashes, an in-vehicle support system is proposed from an adapted version of the Teen Driver Support System (TDSS). The adaptation of the TDSS into an Older Driver Support System (ODSS) requires careful consideration of multiple factors to cater to the needs of an aging population. The investigation of the system adaptation will require a two-year approach. Year 1 focused on information-seeking interviews, an interface display survey, and a usability test with driving video. Information gathered from older drivers through their exposure to the iterative design of the system revealed interesting trends in acceptance of the technology. Overall, users who were technologically savvy tended to reject the system's design if catered specifically for older drivers rather than for all drivers. Older drivers with less technology experience tended to show more acceptance for the targeted design of the system for an older population. The usability study conducted in the driving simulator revealed positive feedback about the system's design. User feedback will be integrated into final system design on-road testing. Year 2 will focus on a controlled field study with older drivers using the functional prototype. The controlled field study will utilize intended users of the system to allow them to drive a pre-defined route while experiencing the in-vehicle feedback. The outcome of the study is expected to better outline the needs of older drivers and is intended to prepare the prototype for a field operational test.

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