The research team at the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity, and Participation (I-MAP), which include Dr. Sherrilene Classen (Principal Investigator), Dr. Justin Mason and Dr. James Wersal, are collaborating with the City of Gainesville and Dr. Virginia Sisiopiku of the University of Alabama at Birmingham to elucidate older drivers’ (> 65 years) perceptions of autonomous vehicles. The project is titled Older Driver Experiences with Autonomous Vehicle Technology, and a paper related to this study will be presented by Dr. Justin Mason at the Road Safety & Simulation Conference at the University of Iowa, October 14-17. This project is funded by the STRIDE Center.
Older drivers are the fastest growing segment of the driving population in the US. They experience age-related declines which are associated with higher crash risk and increased mortality rates. Crash mitigation strategies emerge as a critical factor in making the roads safer for all users and allowing older adults to stay active in their community. Autonomous vehicles (AVs) may provide a safe and equitable transportation opportunity for individuals who are no longer able to drive. However, little is known about adoption practices of older adults relayed to AVs. The aim of this study is to assess the perceptions, values, beliefs, and attitudes of older drivers before and after interacting with AV technology. This study utilizes an experimental, repeated measures crossover design with pre-visit and post-visit surveys to quantify the perceptions of 105 older drivers, matched for age and gender, who have been exposed to driving a simulator in autonomous mode (Level 4, Society of Automotive Engineers Guide) and riding in an autonomous shuttle (Level 4, Society of Automotive Engineers Guide). The preliminary analysis (≈ 70 drivers) will be presented at the 2019 Road Safety & Simulation (RSS) conference. Older drivers’ pre-, post-simulator, and post-shuttle surveys will be compared to yield information on their perception to AVs. The research team hypothesizes that (1) older drivers’ perceptions will change after being exposed to driving the simulator and/or the autonomous shuttle; (2) the greatest level of change will occur between pre-survey and post-survey results; and (3) the older drivers’ perceptions will be influenced more by the on-road experience in the autonomous shuttle compared to the driving simulator.
Findings from this study will inform stakeholders such as engineers, city management, and transportation officials of older adult drivers’ perceptions and attitudes toward AV use. The knowledge gained through this research will help to identify opportunities and methods to overcome barriers to improve older drivers’ interaction with AVs, facilitate their ease-of-use practices, and potentially empower older drivers to adopt these technologies.
For more information, contact Dr. Justin Mason, Post-Doctoral Associate, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Florida, firstname.lastname@example.org.