Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 2 » Human Factors - Human Factors Engineering, Mobility And Transportation, Living Environments, Computer Technology And Information Systems, Conclusion

Human Factors - Mobility And Transportation

driving people drivers design

It is fairly well known that many older people, because of difficulty walking, using stairs, driving, or using public transportation, have difficulty getting from place to place. Problems with mobility often make it difficult for older people to get to stores, banks, and physicians' offices; to participate in community activities; or to maintain contact with family and friends. These problems are exacerbated for older adults who live in suburban or rural communities where public transportation is often minimal or nonexistent and driving is the only option. Driving is problematic for many older adults, making this a topic of great interest to policy makers, researchers, and the elderly themselves.

In this regard, issues related to the safety and mobility of older drivers has received considerable attention within the human factors community. This research has been directed toward understanding the difficulties experienced by older drivers and the reasons for these difficulties, as well as identifying potential design solutions. Several researchers have found that problems with driving are related to deficits in vision and aspects of cognition (see Ball and Owsley, 1991). It is also known that certain tasks, such as left-hand turns, or certain environments, such as driving in construction zones, are difficult for older people. Many older people also report difficulty adjusting to changes in automobile design.

Proven areas of effective intervention include redesign of roadway signs and warnings, modifications in the design of the automobile, and training. It has been shown, for example, that providing older people with training on abilities important to driving, such as visual attention, offers the potential of improving driving performance. Strategies such as increasing the contrast of roadway signs so that they are easier to read or providing drivers with additional signs about upcoming traffic or roadway demands can also help enhance the safety of older drivers.

Other important areas of human factors intervention include identifying alternative solutions, such as modifications in public transportation systems to make them more easily available, so that the need for driving is reduced. Older people commonly report problems using buses or subways due to inefficient design. Common problems include difficulty getting on and off, crowding, lack of security, and lack of availability of transportation systems. Other problems relate to understanding schedules and maps. Many of these problems are amenable to human factors solutions.

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