This project is collaboration between Systems Technology, Inc. (STI) and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMass) both with extensive driving simulator experience and research with older drivers. It is proposed to develop an assessment and training system with a simulator to mediate the traffic safety problems of older drivers. The simulation software is well developed and user interfaces can be derived from existing software. Short (micro) driving scenarios will be developed that minimize the well know side effect of simulator sickness or simulator adaptation syndrome (SAS) while still maintaining training and rehabilitation efficacy. Previous research has shown that short scenarios can still produce effective training while minimizing SAS. The effects of such training have previously been shown to be resistant to extinction with most actively trained drivers maintaining skills for up to two years. Three groups of drivers will be trained with the new scenarios, with previous conventional scenarios and a placebo group that will be given conventional training. Simulator sickness symptoms will be measured with the Kennedy simulator sickness questionnaire (SSQ). Validity of the new training procedures will be judged by subsequent testing at UMass with in-vehicle testing and at STI with high end simulator testing to verify training retention. If successful, the proposed methods will have made huge strides in removing one of the largest and most concerning issues facing the deployment of simulator- based assessment and training for older drivers. Longer-term Phase II plans for this research include deploying several of these systems in the field for larger scale randomized control trials. During that phase, our focus will be on developing the systems for effective use by practitioners.
Older drivers have an increasing risk of traffic safety problems with increasing age. Training and rehabilitation methods have been developed in previous research to reduce older driver crash risk. The objective of this project is to refine procedures t minimize the incidence of simulator sickness which is the main impediment to wider use of driving simulator assessment, training and rehabilitation for older drivers.