Procedures for Testing Older Driving Capabilities

Period of Performance: 09/30/2001 - 06/30/2002

$106K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Systems Technology, Inc.
13766 Hawthorne Blvd. Array
Hawthorne, CA 90250
Principal Investigator

Abstract

The primary objective of this proposed project is to develop a low-cost driving simulator that can be used for screening and potentially retraining the psychomotor, attentional and cognitive skills of older drivers. This development will build on an already existing device that has been used to assess driver behavior impaired by alcohol and fatigue and to train novice drivers. The simulation device is intended to have well developed and sensitive measurement paradigms for assessing psychomotor, attentional and cognitive skills, which have been developed in prior research. The motivation for this development is the growing concern for improving the safety and mobility of older drivers. The basic hardware and software technology for a low cost driving simulation has already been developed and found to be sensitive to driver age. We propose here to: 1) refine driving scenarios and measurement paradigms to assess the psychomotor, attentional and cognitive skills of drivers in critical road and traffic situations; 2) conduct limited pilot testing with older driver groups to demonstrate the feasibility of the expanded simulation capabilities for screening and training the safety related skills of older drivers. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS: There is a potential market for an apparatus that can be used by different organizations for screening older drivers for safety related visual, motor, psychomotor and cognitive deficits. Licensing authorities could screen drivers prior to giving road tests. Insurance companies could screen older drivers prior to issuing car insurance. Senior citizen centers could also use driving simulators to promote self-awareness of driving skill deficits. Such devices could also be used for remedial training to teach older drivers to compensate for driving skill deficits. Finally, physicians and therapists could use driving