Vehicle ergonomics and older drivers
2015-10-27T11:46:36Z (GMT) by
There is a growing population of older people around the world and the population of older drivers is increasing in parallel. UK government figures in 2012 reported that there were more than 15 million people with a driving license aged over 60; more than 1 million of these were over 80. The aim of this thesis is to determine the requirements of older users for an improved driving experience leading to recommendations for the automotive industry. Initially it was necessary to understand some of the key issues concerning the driving experiences of older drivers; therefore a questionnaire survey of drivers of all ages (n=903) was conducted supplemented by interviews with drivers aged ≥ 65 years (n=15). Areas covered included: musculoskeletal symptoms, the vehicle seat, driving performance and driving behaviour. Respondents reported that they were dissatisfied with adjusting specific seat features, for example the head rest height and distance from the head; females reported more difficulty than males. Reaching and pulling the boot door down to close was difficult for 12% of older females. Older males and females also reported more difficulties with parallel parking and driving on a foggy day than younger drivers (p<0.01). Nearly half of the sample (47%) reported that other drivers lights restrict their vision when driving at night. An in depth study was conducted to compare participants own vehicle (familiar) and a test vehicle (unfamiliar) to understand how design of the vehicle cab impacts on posture, comfort, health and wellbeing in older drivers (n=47, ≥50 years). The study involved functional performance assessments, seat set-up process evaluation (observations and postural analysis), ergonomics and emotional design based evaluations of car seat controls. Many issues were identified related to the seat controls such as operating, accessing, reaching and finding, particularly for the head rest height and lumbar support adjustments. Approximately 40% of the participants had difficulty turning their head and body around to adjust the head rest height, and the majority of these were over 80. This led to a series of workshops (including a participatory design exercise) with 18 participants (4 groups, ≥ 65 years).The aim was to explore the optimum positioning and operation of controls for older drivers. This research has provided foundational data and makes design recommendations for the automotive industry with a focus on making seat controls more inclusive (operation, location, type, size, colour and materials) and meet the requirements of older drivers.