PLANT

What’s driving boomers? [VIDEO]

AUTO21 study tracks their road behaviour


There’s a seismic shift underway among the drivers of tomorrow. In 2011, baby boomers began turning 65, joining the ranks of seniors, the fastest growing group of drivers in Canada. In 2009, there were 3.25 million of them and by 2028 their numbers are expected to double.

With aging comes the onset of medical conditions and other health-related changes that affect the way people drive and use their automobiles.

Driving is critical to quality of life and independence, so it’s imperative an effective screening measure is developed to correctly flag those who may be a medical risk. But there’s also a need to support safe driving among older people for as long as possible.

Baby boomers represent a significant and influential segment of the car buying market. How they drive will influence vehicle design and innovations.

The system’s three cameras provide a 180-degree view both inside (including the sriver) and outside of the car. A fourth camera captures the participant’s vehicle within the environment (bottom right quadrant).  PHOTO: AUTO21

The system’s three cameras provide a 180-degree view both inside (including the sriver) and outside of the car. A fourth camera captures the participant’s vehicle within the environment (bottom right quadrant).
PHOTO: AUTO21

The Canadian Driving Research Initiative for Vehicular Safety in Elderly (Candrive) received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to track the health, driving patterns and crashes of 928 drivers aged 70 and older over five years. But the project didn’t capture how they actually drive their automobiles. Now it does.

A partnership with the AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence provides funding to a team of researchers and graduate students from engineering, kinesiology and occupational therapy at McMaster, Ottawa and McGill universities. Their research, the first of its type in the world, uses video and GPS data to quantify changes in actual on-road driving behaviour within a sub-group of drivers from the Candrive study.

An in-car recording system developed with industrial partners Persentech and GoPro applies GPS-technology to capture driving patterns using three HD cameras that provide a 180-degree view inside and outside of the car. A fourth camera captures the vehicle within the environment.

The team tracks changes in performance across time and identifies key factors that influence the safety of older drivers, including their use of vehicle design features.

Driving is the most viable means of transportation within this age group. Understanding how boomers drive and use their vehicles provides an opportunity to develop effective strategies that will promote their safety and the safety of others using the road.

Watch AUTO21’s award-winning video of the project, Innovations that enhance the safety of older drivers below.

Kinga Eliasz is a doctoral candidate at McMaster University in Hamilton. Brenda Vrkljan is an associate professor of Occupational Therapy with the School of Rehabilitation Science at the university and a project lead researcher with AUTO21 Network of Centres of Excellence.

This article appears in the March 2015 issue of PLANT.

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