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AARP/MIT Panel Convenes Today on Older Driver Safety

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MIT AgeLab: Aging and InnovationA new panel on older drivers and safety will have its first meeting today, in Washington, D.C., to begin synthesizing research results and work on developing AARP’s new “Driver Safety” course. AARP assembled the AARP-MIT AgeLab National Older Driver Safety Expert Panel from diverse backgrounds, reports AARP.

According to the AARP press release, in addition to serving as a sounding board on the new driver safety course, “The panel will advise on curriculum content, identify technological and practical innovations in cars, driving and road safety, [and] provide insight on best practices in adult safety education from around the world.”

Joseph F. Coughlin, Ph.D., director of MIT AgeLab, and chairman of the older driver safety expert panel, said in the AARP statement that because cars, the environment, and lifestyles of older Americans have “profoundly” changed, it is “imperative” that “our practical knowledge of safe driving maintains the same velocity of change.” The panel is supported by a generous grant to the AARP Foundation from Toyota.

As it details on its website, the MIT AgeLab is working on research projects on: transportation safety; the impact of people’s health, wellness and medication on driving; personal transportation choices; future travel demand; the promise and trade-offs of new vehicle technologies; vehicle design and services; and mobility alternatives in livable communities in the U.S. and throughout the world.

On his blog, big think, Coughlin notes the size of the older population in the U.S.:

Remember the baby boomers, they’re not babies anymore, now turning 66 nearly one every ~7 seconds. The fastest growing part of the American population is over age 50 — and within that cohort, adults over 85 years old and older are increasing the fastest.

What is the agenda status of how we rethink, resize, and reengineer public transportation and all public spaces to accommodate an aging society? The response has largely been to provide alternative transportation for the disabled assuming that these services also meet the needs of an older traveler. They do not.

In addition to Dr. Coughlin, the members of the AARP-MIT AgeLab National Older Driver Safety Expert Panel include:

  • Jon Antin, Ph.D., CHFP, a Human Factors Research Scientist and Leader of the Light Vehicle Safety Group in the Center for Automotive Safety Research at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) in Blacksburg. He is working on several projects related to senior driver safety focusing on fitness to drive modeling, intersection-related behavior, and brain training.
  • Karlene Ball, Ph.D., a University Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She is also the Director of the UAB Roybal Center for Translational Research on Aging and Mobility, and Associate Director, Center for Aging.
  • Sherrilene Classen, Ph.D., MPH, OTR/L, an Associate Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy and Director of the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation, and holds a position as an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.
  • Elin Schold Davis, OTR/L, CDRS, the Older Driver Initiative Project Coordinator for the American Occupational Therapy Association. Schold Davis is a member of the American Society on Aging’s Drive Well Speakers Bureau, and a member of the Transportation Research Board’s Safe Mobility for Older Persons Committee.
  • Ann M. Dellinger, Ph.D., M.P.H., epidemiologist and team leader for the Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention Team of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, where she oversees the road safety work of the Center.
  • Monique R. Evans, P.E., CPM, Director of the Office of Safety Research and Development at the Federal Highway Administration Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. She served for almost 20 years at the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) including nine years as the Administrator of Research and Development.
  • James P. Foley, Ph.D., a Senior Principal Human Factors Engineer at the Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he is team leader for human factors research in the Collaborative Safety Research Center. He has over 30 years of experience in automotive human factors, traffic safety, and ITS technologies.
  • Michael Edwin Kafrissen, M.D., MSPH, Chief Executive Officer of STE Health International LLC and Research Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab. He is also Director of Research and Innovation for the World Health Organization Collaborating Center at UNC-Chapel Hill.
  • Richard Marottoli, M.D., M.P.H., Medical Director at the Adler Geriatric Assessment Center at the Yale New Haven Hospital. He is a former recipient of a Donaghue Foundation Investigator Award, VA HSR&D level I and II Career Development Awards, and a Paul Beeson Physician Faculty Scholars in Aging Research Award.
  • Anne T. McCartt, Ph.D., Senior Vice President for Research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Virginia. She was president of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine and serves on expert committees and advisory boards of the Transportation Research Board and other safety organizations.
  • Jodi Olshevski, M.S., Gerontologist and Assistant Vice President at The Hartford, heading The Hartford Advance 50 Team, leading a team of corporate gerontologists who conduct primary research and deliver expert services across The Hartford Financial Services Group and to selected businesses.
  • Dr. Matthew Rizzo, M.D., FAAN, director of the University of Iowa Aging Mind and Brain Initiative and a professor of Neurology with appointments in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and the Public Policy Center. He is a graduate of Columbia University and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
  • John Saunders, the Vice Chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association and Director of Virginia Highway Safety Services. He also serves as Virginia’s representative to the American Association of State highway and Transportation Officials, Safety Management Subcommittee and serves on the Executive Board of the Virginia Alcohol Safety Program.
  • Mary Stearns, Ph.D., the Chief of the Surface Transportation Human Factors Division at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. Mary taught sociology and urban studies and carried out research in the Boston area.
  • Esther (Essie) Wagner, a Program Analyst working with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Safety Countermeasures Division on pedestrian and older driver safety programs. Before joining NHTSA in 1998, she worked as a contractor for FHWA’s Research and Development division.

MIT’s AgeLab is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation New England University Transportation Center, the insurance industry, Santos Family Foundation, automobile industry, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and selected governments around the world.

Image by MIT’s AgeLab, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


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