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Convergent Opportunities or Collision Course? Older Drivers,New Technology & Well-Being Behind the Wheel

Convergent Opportunities or Collision Course? Older Drivers,New Technology & Well-Being Behind the Wheel

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Center for Transportation & Logistics
AgeLab & New England University Transportation Center

November 15, 2010
At The Royal Sonesta Hotel Boston


Sponsored by
Santos Family Foundation
New England University Transportation Center

Surface transportation is at the intersection of disruptive change. Over the next decade and beyond both disruptive demographics and technologies will impact the design, operation and safety of the transportation system.

The unprecedented aging of both passenger car drivers and motor carrier, rail and transit operators poses new demands on vehicle engineering and design, policy makers, insurers, as well as commercial firms and public agencies responsible for the safe transport of freight and people. While birthdays alone are a poor predictor of safety, health conditions do impact performance. Effective management of chronic disease and medications is critical to ensuring the ability to both make a  living and remain independent.

As the users and operators of the transportation system age, new intelligent transportation technologies are rapidly entering the car, bus, truck and train. Many of these technologies may improve performance and well-being behind the wheel – assisting with communications, compensating for declines in vision, enhancing the capacity to detect a potential collision – and even intervene to modify driver condition, e.g., fatigued, stressed, distracted. However, as new in-vehicle  technologies enter the vehicle, do they present challenges as well as opportunities to older operator performance and overall system safety? For example, new technologies do more than improve  vehicle operation – they require changes to driving behavior – safe behaviors developed over  decades. Does learning while driving pose a new set of safety issues? Are there unique problems associated with in-vehicle system distraction and demand for older operators?

The US Department of Transportation-sponsored New England University Transportation Center, in collaboration with the MIT AgeLab, Santos Family Foundation, AARP and Healthways, will convene an agenda-setting event on November 15, 2010 to:

• Understand the trends and implications of aging and health on individual performance and transportations systems safety from the older automobile driver to the aging motor carrier, rail and transit operator over the next 10 years;

• Identify the future promise and peril of in-vehicle technologies – offering both improvements in performance as well as increases in demand upon the driver’s capability to learn, trust and adopt new technology, as well as manage more information while safely driving;

• Engage thought leaders in automotive transportation engineering/design, safety, transit, motor carriers, insurance, communications, health, and public policy to address the systems implications of aging operators, wellbeing, and new in-vehicle technologies on safety and mobility.

The product of this symposium will be a published report summarizing the national policy, business and research actions recommended by speakers as well as participants to realize the opportunities and to meet the challenges of aging, well-being and technology on transportation systems safety  and productivity.

The public is welcome to this free conference. For further information, see links below: