Will Limited Vehicle Automation that Transfers Control from the Operator to the Vehicle Accommodate Age-related Driving Limitations and Extend Safe Mobility?
Existing research including literature reviews and surveys indicate that older drivers broadly accept in-vehicle technologies that provide safety-related warnings or information but are more resistant to those that take control of the vehicle out of the driver’s hands. The use of such (NHTSA Level 3) technologies also raises difficult questions about where the legal liability lies for crashes and associated fatalities, injuries, and property damage. There are already equipment-related restrictions that are widely accepted by North American licensing jurisdictions (e.g., automatic transmission). Also widely accepted are restrictions that address a driver’s limitations to acquire information needed for safe vehicle operation (e.g., corrective lenses). Thus it may be anticipated not only that emerging devices/technologies that provide warnings or alerts could be accommodated relatively easily within this existing policy framework, but also that technologies that take control of the vehicle could be a logical next step. What benefits must be demonstrated, and what barriers to user/public acceptance must be overcome, before Level 3 technologies could either be 1) imposed as a condition for licensure, or 2) recommended by a Driving Rehabilitation Specialist (DRS) following an individualized driving assessment?
The objective in this
research is a better understanding of the safety and mobility consequences, and
the level of public acceptance, likely to result if Level 3 connected/automated
vehicle (C/AV) technologies are integrated into provisions for restricted licensing
and/or the recommendations provided by a DRS to a driver following an
individualized (comprehensive) driving assessment.
As an extension of existing
practices, integrating Level 3 C/AV technology into provisions for restricted
licensing, and/or into DRS recommendations for adapting a vehicle to an
individual’s diminished capabilities, could further extend the use of personal (private)
vehicles as a safe mobility option for older/medically at-risk drivers. Another benefit of this research could be a
better understanding of the minimal cognitive requirements to take over control
of the vehicle if the automated actions fail.
Research relating to the
effectiveness/consequences of restricted licensing policies is limited, and
none that is known to this RNS author specifically addresses C/AV technologies. The extent to which such technologies are
addressed in evaluations performed by a DRS is also unknown.
Sample the functional (cognitive, psychomotor, visual) status of a large cohort
of older drivers in a cooperating state that is willing to provide driving
history information for (de-identified) drivers.
Determine, through vehicle registration data in the cooperating state, which
older drivers among this sample purchased a new/different vehicle within 12
months of functional screening; and, using VIN information, determine what OEM
CA/V devices/technologies were present in the newly-registered vehicles.
Match two groups of drivers on age, demographics, exposure (self-reported if
necessary), and functional status indices, one group having registered a
new/different vehicle with known C/AV devices (and having been instructed on
their use), and one driving vehicles without such assistive technology (based
on current registration information), and compare their (prospective) driving
history data for a period of one year or more.
- Test for hypothesized
effects (benefits) of assistive technologies in terms of crash frequency, crash
severity, and time to first incident (survival analysis); and query user
perceptions of C/AV strengths and weaknesses.
Also test for differences in exposure (self-reported if necessary) after
one year of driving for each group.
One or more states considering
screening at renewal for drivers exceeding a particular age threshold would be
the candidate venue(s) for this research.
As the industry introduces assistive technologies that can take control of the vehicle, either in emergency situations or at the driver’s discretion, and as such devices will inevitably be marketed at least in part as compensating for (age-related) diminished capabilities, an evidence-based determination of their reputed safety benefits is needed.
|Sponsoring Committee:||ANB60, Safe Mobility of Older Persons
|Research Period:||24 - 36 months|
|Index Terms:||Aged drivers, Driver information systems, Automotive computers, Driver support systems, Traffic crashes, Fatalities, Driver performance, Mobility, |
Safety and Human Factors
Vehicles and Equipment