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 percent 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, to 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 was proposed from an adapted version of the Teen Driver Support System (TDSS). The adaptation of the TDSS into an Older Driver Support System (ODSS) required careful consideration of multiple factors to cater to the needs of an aging population. This research investigated whether an ODSS smartphone application would be useful. The research was comprised of (1) focus groups, surveys, and interviews, (2) simulated driving with video playback, and (3) on-the-road field-testing. The methodology centered on iterative re-design of the ODSS interface based on feedback and behavior of older drivers. This iterative re-design approach was successful at making the ODSS interface more usable when considering System Usability Scale (SUS) scores. Furthermore, older drivers during the field test reported minimal mental effort expended when using the smartphone application and many significantly positive statements about the application. The field test resulted in several final recommendations for the ODSS application. A promising final takeaway was a universal design approach preferred by the older drivers, as they did not want to be singled out for special attention.

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