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Utilization of Driver Safety Events to Measure Older Driver Knowledge, Usage and Transitional Needs Regarding Vehicle Technology


Vehicle technology that has the potential to prevent crashes is only valuable it if is turned “on,” being used correctly, and understood by the driver. Seniors, who learned to drive 30-60 years ago, may not understand the value of present and future technology that is now present or will exist in new motor vehicles. In addition, the complexity of vehicle systems does not facilitate use since most often, when purchasing a motor vehicle the dealer/seller spends only a minimal amount of time explaining all the components or instructions. Furthermore, the owner’s manuals are not simple and not always specific to “added” features of any one model, thus making it more confusing. It would be valuable to get a broad perspective from seniors across the country about vehicle technology so that education and training could be developed. CarFit has been a successful volunteer based program that is a positive experience for seniors to learn how to better “fit” their vehicle. A similar program might be developed for assisting seniors to understand, program, and use vehicle technology in their personal vehicle. However, before developing such a program, it would be critical to understand the current issues, problems, and strategies that would be helpful in designing such a program.


Measure knowledge and utilization of existing in vehicle technologies among older drivers as well as receptivity to new technology features. Determine needs of older drivers in transitioning to new technology in order to recommend training strategies and opportunities.


If senior drivers understood vehicle technology, especially those designed for increased safety/prevention of crashes, it would seem likely that seniors would select/purchase the technology, use it appropriately, and potentially decrease risk of crashes.

Related Research:

There are surveys asking seniors about technology and there are in vehicle naturalistic studies about senior driving. As an innovative method of recruitment, using the CarFit event as the source of volunteers for this study allows access to seniors who are willing to address issues with driving and motivated to address safety by attending an event. This would be unique in using an already implemented program to access seniors that are willing to address issues with driving and motivated to address safety by attending an event.


This could be a three-tiered program. The first would be a survey (in person or by mail) about senior drivers’ knowledge and training needs related to technologies in their own cars. The second would be a cross sectional study, at the time of a CarFit visit, that would give quick instruction about the technology the individual has in their vehicle and post test their understanding with this type of training. Finally, the third tier would be a more detailed instruction/training with a longitudinal follow up to see the effects of this type of support. The advantages of this study include the fact there is an existing infrastructure of CarFit and instructors allows this study to be more easily implemented across the states, as the program has a structure that can be easily extended. Another advantage is that the study would be using the personal car, not a study that is limited to a specific model vehicle. Thus, seniors who participate would potentially learn how to use the technology available in their own vehicle, and measured across time will allow an evaluation of the educational strategies. The seniors participating would learn how to use the technology they purchased. A difference with respect to CarFit as now implemented would be the retention of personal information for participating seniors.

Other tasks include:

· Train event volunteers with sufficient background to enable them to discuss and respond to questions regarding technology features in vehicles. Use the CarFit program already implemented in all 50 states, starting with one or two state programs as a pilot.

· Possibly use VIN numbers to compare and contrast what the senior knows to what features are on the vehicle.

· With select CarFit events, invite volunteers from the Carfit event to get some education information on their specific car models. Do follow up on the phone or in person to evaluate the education process.


Using a nationwide program like CarFit, the research can access those seniors who already are invested in maintaining their driving skills and open to educational opportunities. Tapping into this rich resource, the implementation of this study would be built upon a working system. It would require training and collaboration of some CarFit instructors across states and the collaboration of the three sponsors of CarFit (e.g., American Occupational Therapy Association, AAA, AARP). There might be several investigators working together to conceptualize the program and implement across selected states.


Active senior drivers, a cohort that wants to and needs to stay driving for as long as safely possible since it is most cost effective to age in place and research shows the loss of driving diminishes quality of life and independence. Technology may extend this safety window; however, data must show this to be true.

Sponsoring Committee:ANB60, Safe Mobility of Older Persons
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Research Priority:Medium
RNS Developer:Anne Dickerson, Richard Marottoli, Fran Carlin Rogers, Elin Schold Davis, Carl Wellborn
Source Info:Florida driver survey data, 2011-current. Existing mail surveys done in Florida serve as a pilot of the mail back survey strategy.
Date Posted:09/13/2015
Date Modified:11/13/2015
Index Terms:Collision avoidance systems, Aged drivers, Driver information systems, Driver support systems, Driver training, CarFit, Mobile communication systems, Vehicle safety,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Safety and Human Factors
Education and Training
Vehicles and Equipment

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