Mobile Applications to Help Older Adults Make Safe Street-Crossing Decisions
Injuries and fatalities from motor vehicle collisions pose a significant risk for older pedestrians. In 2015 alone, 1,002 pedestrians ages 65 and older were killed and 9,000 were injured in collisions with motor vehicles (National Center for Statistics and Analysis, 2017). Previous research has shown that in simulated two-way crossings, older adults make more decisions resulting in a collision than do younger adults, especially when a car is approaching rapidly or in the far lane (Dommes et al., 2014).
Assistive mobile application technology offers the potential to help older pedestrians make safer road-crossing decisions. Smartphone usage for older adults (ages 65+) has doubled since 2013 (Anderson & Perrin, 2017), and this number is expected to dramatically increase over the next several years. Advances in Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) technology hold great promise for increasing traffic safety through alerts about upcoming hazards and imminent collisions. Recent efforts have been made to incorporate DSRC into smartphones as a means of bringing pedestrians into the roadway communication network, including our work on providing permissive alerts and prohibitive warnings to college-age texting pedestrians (Rahimian et al., 2016, 2017). However, there are unanswered questions about whether providing timely warnings about traffic conditions on mobile devices to older pedestrians can help them make safer street-crossing decisions.
The aim of this project is to evaluate whether a mobile app that offers road-crossing guidance in the form of alerts and warnings will help older adults make safer crossing decisions. We will use a between-subjects design in which two groups of participants will perform a road-crossing task in a pedestrian simulator while receiving information about when it is safe to cross (permissive alerts) or not safe to cross (prohibitive warnings) from the mobile app. A third group will not receive alerts or warnings and will serve as an independent control group. We will compare performance of the three groups to determine the extent to which the mobile apps increase road-crossing safety.