Safety study examines modern cars and Ontario drivers 65-plus approaching licence renewals

A shot of the Red Hill Valley Parkway in Hamilton, Ont. A road skills study is recruiting healthy adults between the ages of 65 and 79 and to figure out how they're driving and what improvements they can attain in the years to come. Global News

The modernization of cars and changing driving habits of those over 65 are the subject of a road safety study underway in Hamilton, Ont.

Electronic monitoring is set to capture data on healthy drivers between ages of 65 and 79 years in an effort to open up conversations about how their driving has evolved amid the computerizing of motor vehicles.

Brenada Vrkljan, professor at the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University says they’ve had an “incredible response” from potential candidates keen on hosting a device recording how they drive over a month.

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Researchers are partnering with the McMaster Automotive Resource Center which has been doing advanced studies on the modernization of road vehicles, essentially moving from machines to computers on wheels.

“It’s advancing in terms of technology (and) in terms of electrification, we want to take a look at people’s habits behind the wheel and help them maintain their skills,” Vrkljan explained.

The Refreshing Older Adult Driving Skills (ROADSkills) program is intentionally targeting drivers not far from Ontario’s Senior Driver Renewal Program requiring those 80-plus to renew driver’s licences every 2 years.

As part of the aging process, the research also hopes to touch on medical-related issues, changes in driving behaviors and alternative routes people take to get where they’re going.

Recruitment is ongoing in conjunction with McMaster EcoCAR students, a group in a four-year competition engineering next-generation battery electric vehicles (BEV).

That team is also seeking subjects not only to understand those who’ve had a lifetime of driving, but also assess the overall mobility of people over 65.

Vrkljan characterized the current state of recruiting as “overwhelming” and is where interested parties can reach out for more information to potentially participate.

She says due to the limited number of expensive electronic monitors, the process will roll out in waves over the next six months.

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Results are expected by next summer.


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