Older Drivers and Autonomous Vehicles

What happens when you can’t drive, but you still want to get around? Autonomous vehicles may be the answer.

Transportation is taken for granted by many from day to day. But what happens when something goes wrong?  As drivers age, they may experience physical or cognitive declines which can challenge their ability to drive safely. Autonomous vehicle technology could offer older drivers safe and equitable transportation.

Four people standing in front of an autonomous shuttle.

Jason Rogers, Dr. Sherrilene Classen, Dr. Justin Mason, and Jason Rogers stand in front of an autonomous shuttle.

But will older drivers accept this new technology? This is why the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation is working, in collaboration with the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the City of Gainesville, to study the perceptions, values, beliefs, and attitudes of drivers 65 years or older. This research explores how exposure to a driving simulator (in autonomous mode) or riding in an autonomous vehicle, alters the perceptions of these older drivers.

Preliminary results have found that exposure to the autonomous shuttle has a positive effect on increasing older drivers’ safety and trust, and exposure to the simulator has a positive effect on their intention to use these automated technologies.

The results of this research can help identify opportunities for overcoming barriers to older drivers’ acceptance of autonomous vehicles. The potential for widely accepted autonomous transportation with older drivers invites the possibility that as people age they can maintain the independence that transportation offers while keeping themselves and those around them safe.