Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Civil Engineering

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Senior pedestrians and drivers (65 years and older) are among the most vulnerable road users. As the population of seniors rise, concerns regarding older adults' traffic safety are growing. The advantages of using autonomous vehicles, innovative vehicle technologies, and active transportation are becoming more widely recognized to improve seniors' mobility and safety. This behooves researchers to further investigate senior road users’ safety challenges and countermeasures. This study contributes to the literature by achieving two main goals. First, to explore contributing factors affecting the safety of older pedestrians and drivers in the current transportation system. Second, to examine seniors’ perceptions, preferences, and behaviors toward autonomous vehicles and advanced vehicle technologies, the main components of future transportation systems. To achieve the first objective, crash data involving senior pedestrians and drivers were collected and analyzed. Using structural equation modeling, it was found out that seniors’ susceptibility to pedestrian incidents is a function of level of walking difficulty, fear of falling, and crossing evaluation capability. Senior drivers’ risk factors were found to be driving maneuver & crash location, road features & traffic control devices, driver condition & behavior, road geometric characteristics, crash time and lighting, road class latent factors, as well as pandemic variable. To achieve the second objective, a national survey and a driving simulator experiment were conducted among seniors. The national survey investigates seniors’ perceptions and attitudes to a wide range of AVs features from the perspective of pedestrians and users. Using principal component analysis and cluster analysis, three distinctive clusters of seniors were identified with different perceptions and attitude toward different AV options. The driving simulator experiment examined drivers’ behavior and preferences towards vehicle to infrastructure warning messages. Using the analysis of covariance technique, the results revealed that audio warning message was more effective compared to other scenarios. This finding is consistent with the results of stated preferences of the participants. Female and senior drivers had higher speed limit compliance rate. The findings of this study shed light on key aspects of the current and future of transportation systems that are needed to improve the safety of senior road users.

Date

11-3-2022

Committee Chair

Hassan, Hany

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