Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Harnessing New Technology To Keep Older People Behind The Wheel For Longer

Date:
September 20, 2008
Source:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Summary:
A new study has highlighted the key role technology could play in extending the age at which people can drive safely on our roads.

Game of life – this boardgame was developed and used by the researchers to help discern older people’s attitudes to driving.
Credit: Image courtesy of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

A new study has highlighted the key role technology could play in extending the age at which people can drive safely on our roads.

With input from older people, researchers from the University of the West of England, Bristol, have identified ideas for innovative in-car information systems which, if developed, could help compensate for the reduction in reaction time that affects many drivers as they get older.

The research could give older people the confidence to continue driving for as long as their capabilities allow. Crucially, because the systems would not take control of the car away from the driver, they would also enable users to retain their sense of independence.

Undertaken as part of the SPARC (Strategic Promotion of Ageing Research Capacity) initiative, the study will be discussed at this year's BA Festival of Science in Liverpool on Thursday 11th September. SPARC is supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Specific ideas generated include:

  • A system that unobtrusively displays road sign information through a head-up display on the windscreen. This is a see-through display that shows information without impeding the user's view. Harnessing Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, this would track a car's position and identify approaching signs. Exactly the same information contained in the signs would then appear on the windscreen at the right moment. The driver would therefore not have to keep scouring the road side for information.
  • A system providing the driver with audible feedback on their current speed, again harnessing GPS technology. For example, one short, non-distracting bleep could indicate the car is approaching the local speed limit; a longer bleep could indicate the speed limit has been reached. The driver would therefore not have to look at the dashboard so often.
  • The systems have the potential to minimise the amount of time drivers divert their attention from the road ahead, cutting the chance of an accident.

These ideas emerged as a direct result of a groundbreaking survey of older people's driving-related needs and attitudes undertaken as part of the study. This was the first-ever wholly qualitative study to focus specifically on this topic. Over a six-month period, focus groups and interviews were conducted with a sample of 57 people aged between 65 and 85. The sample included a balance of men and women, those living in urban and rural areas, and people who were still driving as well as those who had given up.

A key finding was the important psychological role that driving plays in older people's lives, in contributing to feelings of independence and freedom, and their quality of life.

Those surveyed expressed strong reservations about in-car technologies now under development which aim to take an element of control away from the driver (e.g. systems automatically limiting car speeds or regulating the distance between a car and the vehicle in front). By constraining feelings of independence, such technologies could discourage older people from driving even though they are still physically capable.

But a strong preference was expressed for technologies which simply improve information provision and aid decision-making, such as the GPS-based systems described above.

"Our research highlights issues that have been overlooked by car designers and those advising older people on lifestyles", says Dr Charles Musselwhite, who led the study. "The current emphasis on developing technologies which take over part of the driving task may actually end up deterring older drivers. By contrast, better in-car information systems could help them drive safely and ensure they want to keep driving."

Dr Musselwhite and his team are now planning to work with technical experts to produce a prototype speed information system and in-car road sign information display system.

The 14-month study 'Prolonging Safe Driver Behaviour through Technology: Attitudes of Older Drivers' received financial support from SPARC of 27,564. Additional support was received from the University of the West of England.

The study also highlighted that:

  • Older women are currently more likely than older men to give up driving voluntarily. This may be because driving tends to play a different role in older men's perception of status and role.
  • Older drivers' needs can be split into three categories: practical (e.g. going to the shops or doctor's surgery), social (e.g. visiting friends and attending functions) and aesthetic (e.g. enjoying the countryside and fulfillment of independence and control over one's life).

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. "Harnessing New Technology To Keep Older People Behind The Wheel For Longer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080911111520.htm>.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. (2008, September 20). Harnessing New Technology To Keep Older People Behind The Wheel For Longer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080911111520.htm
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. "Harnessing New Technology To Keep Older People Behind The Wheel For Longer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080911111520.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mini Pacemaker Has No Wires

Mini Pacemaker Has No Wires

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Cardiac experts are testing a new experimental device designed to eliminate major surgery and still keep the heart on track. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
After Cancer: Rebuilding Breasts With Fat

After Cancer: Rebuilding Breasts With Fat

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) More than 269 million women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Many of them will need surgery and radiation, but there’s a new simple way to reconstruct tissue using a patient’s own fat. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood Clots in Kids

Blood Clots in Kids

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Every year, up to 200,000 Americans die from a blood clot that travels to their lungs. You’ve heard about clots in adults, but new research shows kids can get them too. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Radio Waves Knock out Knee Pain

Radio Waves Knock out Knee Pain

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Doctors have used radio frequency ablation or RFA to reduce neck and back pain for years. But now, that same technique is providing longer-term relief for patients with severe knee pain. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins