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Evaluating the Effectiveness of In-vehicle Technology Training Programs for Older Adults


In recent years, many auto manufacturers have added crash avoidance technologies (e.g., Adaptive Cruise Control, Back up Cameras, and Blind Spot Obstacle Detection) to personal vehicles. Although new vehicle purchasers may meet with dealership staff to discuss vehicle features and technologies, specific training and education programs on the proper use of the crash avoidance technologies is rarely provided. At present, the National Automobile Dealership Association does not recognize any auto safety education programs for older adults dedicated to crash avoidance technologies. Current information about the use of such technologies is currently limited to owner's manuals and marketing materials relating to the safety features of the vehicle (e.g., written materials supplied by the auto manufacturer, videos on crash avoidance technologies may be found at the manufacturer's websites, etc.). However, it is unclear how often these resources are utilized and/or if they effectively equip drivers with the knowledge and ability to correctly utilize these technologies. Persons aged 55 and older represent an increasing proportion of new vehicle purchasers, rising from 31% in 2007 to 41% in 2011. Older adults also represent one of the subgroups at greatest risk of vehicle crashes and fatalities from such crashes. The intersection between this large segment of at-risk vehicle purchasers and the ever-changing in-vehicle technologies is poorly understood. Thus, the expanding consumer segment of older adult new vehicle purchasers may benefit from a crash avoidance technology education intervention at or near the time of purchase. The purpose of the educational intervention is to enable older drivers to properly and consistently utilize such technologies that are available on new vehicles. This includes multiple facets of comprehension, including being aware that the vehicle is equipped with the technology(ies), understanding the situations for which the technology(ies) were designed to assist the driver, knowing and remembering how to physically engage and interact with the technology(ies), and recognizing the limitations of the technology(ies). Lastly, but importantly, older drivers must have the desire, motivation, and ability to consistently apply this information within the context of real-world driving situations in order to realize full benefit of these technologies.


The objectives are to (1) assess the current literature regarding older driver’s use of crash avoidance technologies, and (2) to develop and assess multiple intervention delivery methods to promote acceptance and proper use of technologies designed to reduce crash risk for older adults.


Vehicle manufacturers are increasingly offering in-vehicle crash avoidance technologies as standard or optional features across a range of brands and models. Because older drivers are increasingly likely to purchase a vehicle than other age groups and are also among the drivers at greatest risk for crash involvement, there is a significant potential to reduce crashes across a large and vulnerable consumer segment. Moreover, educational programs are relatively inexpensive as compared to technology development, thus there is potential benefit to auto manufacturers by maximizing the effectiveness of existing technologies through ensuring proper use.


The tasks for this project include performing a literature review, conducting formative research, developing intervention protocols, testing the interventions, and analyzing the intervention data. These tasks will be carried out in four phases.

  1. Perform a literature review to determine the current state of the science of acceptability, use, and effectiveness of in-vehicle technologies to enhance driving safety for older adults.

  2. Develop and test assessment measures and intervention protocols in collaboration with consumers through focus groups and pilot work.

  3. Conduct trial assessing three intervention delivery methods.

  4. Assess the acceptability and short- and long-term effectiveness of intervention delivery methods


This project will require multiple phases and will rely on establishing one or more partnerships with auto dealerships to identify older adult purchasers of new vehicles with crash avoidance technologies and leverage the dealer-consumer relationship as a mechanism to deliver intervention protocols.


The results of phase one will provide insight about current practices and acceptance related to crash avoidance technologies among older adults. Subsequent phases will inform best practices to enable proper use of these technologies, and may influence the adoption of educational programs by car dealerships/manufacturers and/or older adult outreach organizations (e.g., centers, CarFit, AARP, AAA, Insurance groups). Older vehicle purchasers and family members may directly benefit from the implementation of such programs.

Sponsoring Committee:ANB60, Safe Mobility of Older Persons
Research Period:Longer than 36 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:Lesley Ross, Christy Phillips, Susan Cohen
Source Info:The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), auto manufacturers, literature, auto dealerships, consumers, data
Date Posted:09/13/2015
Date Modified:11/13/2015
Index Terms:Aged drivers, Driver training, Collision avoidance systems, Driver support systems, Automotive computers, Autonomous intelligent cruise control, Vehicle safety, Backing (Driving), Cameras,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Safety and Human Factors
Education and Training
Vehicles and Equipment

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