Older car drivers - Needs of vehicle support for safe individual mobility
Abstract: As the demographic is changing with the growth of the population of older citizens, concerns have been raised for this group in terms of mobility as well as traffic safety. In this context the automobile is an important means of transport. There is a rapid development of Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) and Collision Avoidance Technologies by the car industry providing driving support and helping to reduce road traffic casualties. The question then arises how to further leverage this technology development in order to account for the changes in driver demographics focusing on the aging population. Hence, research to further understand potential specific needs of older drivers, the situations in which their capacity is challenged and any influencing behavioural factors, is essential.In this thesis some behavioural factors influencing older car drivers have been identified and some of the challenging situations where they occur are described. On-road experiments with eye-tracking as well as driving assessments together with in-depth interviews have been used for this study. The study found that challenging situations include driving through intersections but also driving in city environments on straight roads. A behavioural factor of concern that was found is visual attention, specifically in intersections where also a difference in observational pattern compared to younger drivers was identified. Another factor discovered is poor speed adaptation in relation to the situation and driver capability. Further, lack of awareness of own behaviour and ability, as well as the effect of driver attitudes, are described as some of the underlying factors influencing the behaviour of the older driver. In this context different categories of drivers are specified. In relation to these findings the implications on existing and emerging ADAS and Collision Avoidance Technologies are discussed, concluding that Automatic Emergency Brake (AEB) and collision avoidance technologies designed for intersection scenarios could be highly beneficial for older drivers. It is further concluded that driver support to help adapt speed to the situation may be more difficult to address as underlying factors such as attitudes and social acceptance issues must be considered. The object of this research is to provide insights within areas of ever increasing importance related to automotive safety and to emphasise one aspect of this growing research area, the elderly in an everyday societal context, individual transportation. The topic of this thesis is a guiding philosophy and the belief that technology designed for assisting older car drivers will not only benefit that specific group, but car drivers in general.
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