Safe-D: Safety through Disruption

Examining Senior Drivers Adaptation to Level 2-3 Automated Vehicles: A Naturalistic Study



The aging of society will continue to impact all of society’s major institutions in a variety of ways for decades to come. Major areas which will be affected include finance, housing, health, and transportation. Automated vehicle technology (AVT) has the potential to assist older drivers by reducing exposure to hazards. AVT can help to fill this need by compensating for declining functional health and related abilities often seen in seniors (e.g., cognition, perception, psychomotor skill, and physical abilities such as strength, balance, flexibility, stamina, and reaction time). However, this can only work if technology designers, policy makers, and other stakeholders fully consider the needs and feelings of this growing cohort. For example, some older drivers may fear or mistrust AVT, not perceiving how it may help them compensate for diminished functional health and capability. The objective of the proposed project is to examine seniors’ attitudes towards AVT prior to any substantive exposure or use, then again after having the opportunity to explore and use AVT in the real world for six weeks. Participants will fill in before/after surveys, and they will be asked to contribute to focus group sessions. Results and data will be productized and shared with key stakeholders. Thus, this project sits directly at the nexus of its primary theme area of Automated Vehicles and the primary application area of Vulnerable Users (i.e., senior drivers). These two major emerging societal and technological trends must be reconciled as we move forward into this century of change.

Project Highlights

Conclusions about the need for extended instruction on the use of advanced vehicle technologies and the need for streamlined user documentation and an intuitive user interface will help inform industry stakeholders. 

Identification of the gap between participant expectations of technology performance capabilities and actual performance parameters is an important contribution to the body of knowledge informing design of the consumer experience. 

Final Report

03-040 Final Research Report

EWD & T2 Products

Student Impact Statement (pdf): One graduate student was funded under this project (Dan Liang from VT, Ph.D. student). This file contains a statement of the impact this project made on this student’s education and workforce development.

Course Materials (pptx): This presentation was developed to be given as part of an undergraduate and graduate course at VT (ISE 3614: Introduction to Human Factors – Half-class lecture given; ISE 5604: Human Information Processing – Half-Full class lecture to be given in fall, 2019).


Liang, D., Antin, J., Lau, N. (2019). Examining senior drivers’ adaptation to advanced driver assistance systems. Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Future Active Safety Technology towards Zero Accidents. Blacksburg, VA. 

Liang, D., .Examining senior drivers’ acceptance to advanced driver assistance systems. Poster session with Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology OST-R September 11, 2019. Blacksburg, Virginia.

Liang, D. Examining Senior Drivers’ Acceptance to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems: A Variation on the Technology Acceptance Model. Presentation at FAST Zero Conference, Blacksburg, VA, September 11, 2019. 

Liang, D., Baker, S., Lau, N., & Antin, J. (2018). Examining senior drivers adaption to mixed level automated vehicles: focus group results from a naturalistic driving study. Poster Session presented at the 7th International Symposium on Naturalistic Driving Research, August 27-30th, 2018. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, Blacksburg, VA, USA (Published)

Research Investigators (PI*)

Jon Antin (VTTI/VT)*
Nathan Lau (VT)
Dan Liang (VT)
Stephanie Baker (VTTI/VT)
Brian Wotring (VTTI/VT)

Project Information

Start Date: 12/16/2017
End Date: 12/15/2018
Status: Complete
Grant Number: 69A3551747115
Total Funding: $275,263
Source Organization: Safe-D National UTC
Project Number: 03-040

Safe-D Theme Areas

Automated Vehicles

Safe-D Application Areas

Vulnerable Users
Driver Factors and Interfaces

More Information

UTC Project Information Form

Sponsor Organization

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
University Transportation Centers Program
Department of Transportation
Washington, DC 20590 United States

Performing Organization

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
3500 Transportation Research Plaza
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061