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Fork in the road: In-vehicle navigation systems and older drivers

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Chris EmmersonORCiD, Dr Amy Guo, Professor Phil BlytheORCiD, Dr Anil Namdeo, Simon Edwards



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


A significant characteristic of the UK’s rapidly ageing population is the high percentage of older adults who rely extensively on their private automobile to stay mobile. There are, however, functional declines that occur with ageing that affect one’s ability to drive safely. Additionally, navigating becomes more difficult as we age and can result in older adults reducing the amount they drive on unfamiliar routes. Thus, understanding how older drivers currently plan and then way-find journeys will allow for future in-vehicle navigation systems to be more appropriate for the needs of older adults. The paper reports on the findings of six focus groups with older drivers; three groups with those who use in-vehicle navigation systems and three groups with those who do not. The focus groups found that the use of in-vehicle navigation systems provide older drivers with an increased confidence on the roads, companionship in the car and an element of pleasure in driving. When planning long distance trips, older drivers will use online planning tools that provide a familiarity with their traditional method of navigation the road atlas. Some participants who currently use no driving aids reported the use of potentially unsafe navigating behaviours to assist them on road network; indicating a clear need for assistance in navigating. Finally, there are some significant barriers for in-vehicle navigation systems to overcome before they can be considered beneficial for older drivers.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Emmerson C, Guo W, Blythe PT, Namdeo A, Edwards S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour

Year: 2013

Volume: 21

Pages: 173-180

Print publication date: 01/11/2013

Online publication date: 17/10/2013

Acceptance date: 21/09/2013

Date deposited: 30/11/2012

ISSN (print): 1369-8478

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5517

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.trf.2013.09.013

Notes: This paper has significance for the UK’s rapidly ageing population which relies extensively on private vehicles to stay mobile. The research provides an understanding of how older drivers currently plan and then way-find journeys thus allowing for the design of future in-vehicle navigation systems to be more appropriate for the needs of older adults. Research funded in on-going EPSRC SiDE (Social inclusion through the Digital Economy) project (EP/G066019/1; £12.1M). This has won an additional award of £10,000 from the Digital Economy Telling Tales of Engagement competition to further support the work with older drivers and explore commercial exploitation of results.


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