In today’s Academic Minute, Dr Amy Guo of Newcastle University explains the development of technology to address issues faced by ageing drivers.
Amy Guo is a Researcher in Intelligent Mobility with the Transport Operations Research Group at Newcastle University. Guo’s research is focused on Intelligent Transport Systems, Intelligent Mobility, Travel Information and Age-related Driving Behavior. Her current projects involve testing and evaluating the effectiveness of technologies in improving road safety and meeting the evolving mobility needs of ageing populations.The ageing population is one of the great global challenges of the 21st century. The mobility of older people, including their ability to drive safely for longer, is recognised as crucial for independence and social inclusion. In-vehicle systems have the potential to help compensate for the drivers’ increased reaction time and to give them the confidence to continue driving.
As we get older, it is inevitable that general health and fitness will begin to deteriorate. Age leads to functional decline in physical, visual and mental abilities. These declines affect individuals in different ways but in most cases reduce feelings of wellbeing and confidence to perform tasks as well as in their ‘younger’ years. This in turn raises concern that older drivers may be at risk of making more errors and are more likely to be involved in an accident.
A lot of technologies are already out there but need to be adapted for older people. We are working on technologies which can help older drivers maintain a steady speed when driving on roads with a low speed limit and watch out for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists near them. We are also looking at systems which can provide information on traffic and road signs at an earlier stage giving older drivers more time to react before a manoeuvre. Other systems will allow older drivers to find routes that they are comfortable with and are easy to follow.
We hope that our work can help older drivers drive safely and live a full and active life for longer. This could result in the slowing down of the ageing process and improve the quality of life.
Dr Amy Guo
published on: 18th June 2012