Hoover Completes Thesis on Elderly Drivers

Posted on 7/21/20 1:04 PM

Kalie HooverKalie Hoover, MS in safety sciences student, successfully defended her thesis, titled “Examining reaction time and compensatory behaviors and their effects on elderly drivers: A systemic review.”

She examined current literature and legislation in the United States. Due to population aging, elderly drivers represent an increasing proportion of car drivers. Over time, aging can slow down the brain's ability to have a fast motor output, leading to less time to respond to fast-paced scenarios seen in driving. Unsafe behaviors identified included improper and inconsistent speed, lack of awareness in lane changing, lack of use of signals or lack of identifying when others are using their signals, and inconsistent braking. Compensatory behaviors such as slow speed and daylight driving give more time to respond to unexpected situations.

The DOT restrictions and regulations currently in place to protect elderly drivers seem to be unpopular in most states, with some of them not requiring any stricter renewal processes, no eye exams, and no cognitive testing. If stricter regulations were implemented, it would be predicted that the rate of fatalities in the older age brackets would decline.

Luz Marin chaired Kalie's thesis. Kalie will be an August 2020 graduate.

Department of Safety Sciences