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Serialization of Vehicle Control at Intersections in Older Drivers

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Boer, E., Cleij, D., Dawson, J., & Rizzo, M. (2011). Serialization of Vehicle Control at Intersections in Older Drivers. In 6th International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driver Assessment, Training, and Vehicle Design (pp. 17-23). Iowa City, IA, USA: University of Iowa, Public Policy Center.

Negotiating intersections is a complex driving task that is particularly difficult for older drivers. This task requires accurate coordination of multiple driving subtasks, placing high demands on perception, attention and motor control that are known to decline with age. We analyzed intersection negotiation behavior in an instrumented vehicle and found striking differences in how drivers of different ages synchronize speed and heading control when turning right. The older drivers performed most of their steering while standing still instead of while accelerating as younger drivers do. This shift from parallel to serial control is a compensatory solution that drivers employ in response to age related decline in perception, cognition, and motor control abilities. Serialization of turning at an intersection reduces attentional demands largely by eliminating the need to switch attention between different driving sub-tasks.