, Director, Mechanical Engineering
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. The disproportionate fatality risk is linked to several known factors ranging from failure to yield, cognitive and visual limitations, seatbelt-use abstention, and fragility. Previous research has used a smartphone app to provide feedback to teen drivers regarding risky driving behaviors. Its modified, universally designed version, RoadCoach, has been proposed as an assistive tool to reduce risky driving behaviors among older drivers. The app was found to have high usability through a series of focus groups, usability tests, and controlled field tests among older drivers. The safety features of the app that are intended to reduce risky behaviors, such as warnings for hard braking and turning, advanced curve notifications, and speeding, had high user acceptance. This study focuses on a field operational test (FOT) with 30 older drivers across Minnesota and Kansas using the RoadCoach prototype. The FOT examines older drivers' baseline driving behavior (3 weeks), driving behavior with RoadCoach feedback (6 weeks), and a follow-up baseline period (3 weeks). The study will determine if the RoadCoach app can successfully mitigate risky driving behaviors (e.g., speeding and hard braking) among older drivers and determine if changes in behavior persist after the treatment is removed. A successful deployment of the app among older drivers may provide a tool to help prolong safe, independent driving among our nation's seniors.