COGNITIVE AND PERCEPTUAL FACTORS IN AGING AND DRIVING
Edward J. Rinalducci, Mustapha Mouloua, and Janan Smither
Department of Psychology
University of Central Florida
Final Technical Report No. VPL-03-01
Visual Performance Laboratory
Department Of Psychology
University of Central Florida
Orlando, Fl. 32816-1390
Technical Report submitted to the Florida Department of Transportation, Tallahassee under grant number 16-21-713 to the University of Central Florida and CATSS: Drs. Edward J. Rinalducci, Mustapha Mouloua, and Janan Al-Awar Smither were the Principal Investigators. The views presented in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of UCF, CATSS, or FDOT. Mr. Jack Selter was the Technical Monitor. Comments on this report may be sent to Edward J. Rinalducci, Department of Psychology, University of Central Florida, Orlando FL, 328161780.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Tasks and Materials
Data Collection and Analyses
Results and Discussion
The report examines cognitive and perceptual factors as a function of age differences in drivers.
Three major groups of participants employed in the proposed research. The
younger group range from 19 to 34 years of age, the middle-age group range from 35 to 59 years, and the older group were 60 years and above. The research for first phase of the study was carried out in the Visual Performance Laboratory in the Department of Psychology at the University of Central Florida. It consisted of determining various perceptual and cognitive measures. In addition, tests assessing neurological status were carried out in the FASST Laboratory at the same time. The last phase or the simulation phase of the study was also carried out in the Visual Performance Laboratory using a low fidelity simulation of the driving task. In general, it was found that tests such as the UFOV, the Digit Symbol, the Block Design, the Trails B, and Contrast Sensitivity seem to be better able to predict driving performance on the low fidelity simulation task compared to some of the other tests. It was observed that younger drivers had more collisions/crashes than middle-aged drivers, and they had more collisions/crashes than older drivers. Older drivers were less likely to exceed speed limits and younger drivers. It was also found that the various measures of UFOV (useful-field-of-view) increased with the age of the participant. Thus, younger drivers were found to be responsible for more collisions/crashes and lack of obeying of speed limits than older drivers. However, changes in older drivers might best be measured using various neurological measures and the UFOV.
There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that older drivers may have more difficulty in attending to the driving task and be slower at processing information, especially when required to make complex decisions. For example, the older driver may be at a disadvantage both perceptually and cognitively in dealing with complex traffic situations (Transportation Research Board; National Research Council, 1988). Traffic accidents caused by elderly drivers have been attributed by investigators to neglect or an inattention to relevant information from road signs, as well as to other cars on the road and to pedestrians crossing or at the side of the road (Ponds, Brouwer, & Wolfelaar, 1988). These accidents have resulted in a significant number of fatalities and financial losses. However, it may be that the rise in accident rates among the elderly is not due only to age-related declines, but also to the additional functional losses resulting from age-related brain diseases. Therefore, the neurological status of the driver needs to be...
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