AgeLab Researchers Present at 99th Annual Transportation Research Board Meeting

by Adam Felts

AgeLab researchers Pnina Gershon, Bruce Mehler, Bryan Reimer, John Rudnik, and Bobbie Seppelt were active participants at the 99th Annual Transportation Research Board Meeting, presenting papers and contributing to panel discussions, working groups, and committees.

Mehler, Seppelt and Reimer were authors of a poster titled “The TEORT Problem: Finding a Path to a Solution for Modern In-Vehicle HMIs”. TEORT refers to the total amount of time drivers glance away from the road and is one of the measures traditionally considered in assessing attentiveness to the driving task as well as the demand of an in-vehicle task, such as tuning the radio. However, some off-road glances (e.g., looking at the mirrors) are directly related to the driving task and are not signifiers of inattentiveness. Additionally, as increasingly multi-step, multi-modal interfaces, such as those incorporating auditory-vocal interactions have been introduced, work has emerged supporting the position that the interleaving of sufficiently long on-road glances between appropriate duration off-road glances moderates the extent to which a universal TEORT metric is best applied to modern HMIs. The poster suggests hybrid measures of attention that consider these factors offer a more comprehensive view of safe driver behavior.

Gershon presented a paper on a data-driven approach to identify risk groups among teenage drivers and to examine factors associated with between-group variability in crash risk. The study is part of a collaboration with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health. Gershon also attended the Transportation Research Board's Committee on Operator Education and Regulation and the Young Driver Subcommittee.

Rudnik’s poster presented findings on challenges related to transportation for the Lifestyle Leaders, a research panel of adults ages 85 and older. Some members of the panel reported that they had to give up driving and start using alternative modes of transportation, such as paratransit services or shared ride services, although most continue to drive. Some experienced issues of physical discomfort and increased time associated with travel and more energy spent planning trips; some also noted an increased sense of dependence on others around their transportation needs. These findings suggest that those on the higher end of the age spectrum have unique transportation demands to be met by policymakers and businesses.

Seppelt was also involved in multiple panels and workshops. She was a presenter at the "Highlights from the 2019 Automated Vehicles Symposium" Workshop, an invited expert participant in the Human Factors Trilateral Working Group on Mental Models, a presenter at the Vehicle-Highway Automation Committee session, and chair and presenter at the Human Factors in Road Vehicle Automation Committee session.

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About the Author

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Adam Felts

Adam Felts is a researcher and writer at the MIT AgeLab. Currently he is involved in research on the experiences of family caregivers and the future of financial advice. He also manages the AgeLab blog and newsletter. He received his Master's in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boston University in 2014 and his Master's of Theological Studies from Boston University in 2019.

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