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

Christopher Emmerson, Amy Weihong Guo, Phil Blythe*, Anil Namdeo, Simon Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


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 an individual's ability to drive safely. Additionally, navigating becomes more difficult as we age and can result in older adults reducing their driving on unfamiliar routes. Thus, understanding how older drivers currently plan and then way-find journeys will allow future in-vehicle navigation systems to be more appropriate for the needs of older adults. This 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, a form of 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 an initial familiarity with their traditional method of navigation. Some participants who do not currently use any 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-180
Number of pages8
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Early online date17 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


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