• August 20th, 2021

Older adults (>65 years) account for almost 20% of the population in the United States and prefer driving as their primary mode of transportation but are at greater risk for crash-related injuries and death, compared to younger drivers. Autonomous vehicles (AVs) may hold health and safety benefits for older drivers if this segment of the population accepts and adopts this technology. To document older drivers’ perceptions toward AVs, this study used a repeated-measures crossover design, with random allocation of 104 older drivers who were exposed to (a) an autonomous shuttle (Society of Automotive Engineers Level 4) and (b) a simulator programmed to run in autonomous mode (Society of Automotive Engineers Level 4). Participants completed pre- and post-exposure surveys, to report their adoption preferences and perceptions on nine domains of an Autonomous Vehicle User Perception Survey. A two-way mixed ANOVA was used to analyze the time effect, group effect, and time by group interaction. No group effects were evident, but older drivers’ perceptions of safety, trust, and perceived usefulness of AV technology increased after being exposed to the AV technology. The group-by-time interaction effects indicated the significance of older adult perceptions pertaining to intention to use, trust, perceived usefulness, control/driving efficacy, and safety. This study provides valuable contributions to the current body of knowledge regarding the determinants of older adult AV technology acceptance practices. Yet, it is recommended that repeated testing take place because different automated systems, levels of technology, contexts, policies, and local conditions may influence older drivers’ perceptions of AV technology.

Read the full study here.