An approach to vehicle design: in-depth audit to understand the needs of older drivers
2016-09-08T10:09:50Z (GMT) by
The population of older people continues to increase around the world, and this trend is expected to continue; the population of older drivers is increasing accordingly. January 2012 figures from the DVLA in the UK stated that there were more than 15 million drivers aged over 60; more than 1 million drivers were aged over 80. There is a need for specific research tools to understand and capture how all users interact with features in the vehicle cabin e.g. controls and tasks, including the specific needs of the increasingly older driving population. This paper describes an in-depth audit that was conducted to understand how design of the vehicle cabin impacts on comfort, posture, usability, health and wellbeing in older drivers. The sample involved 47 drivers (38% female, 62% male). The age distribution was: 50–64 (n = 12), 65–79 (n = 20), and those 80 and over (n = 15). The methodology included tools to capture user experience in the vehicle cabin and functional performance tests relevant to specific driving tasks. It is shown that drivers' physical capabilities reduce with age and that there are associated difficulties in setting up an optimal driving position such that some controls cannot be operated as intended, and many adapt their driving cabins. The cabin set-up process consistently began with setting up the seat and finished with operation of the seat belt.