Posts tagged with "University of Utah"

‘Smart cars’ are too ‘demanding and confusing’ for older drivers

August 2, 2019

“It was a comedy of errors,” said a 71-year-old participant in a recent study conducted by the University of Utah on behalf of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety—during which, among other things, he was asked to program car’s infotainment system.

The new AAA car safety study suggests that tech-laden “smart” cars are too distracting, which can undermine efforts to keep roadways safe, especially when those getting behind the wheel are aged 55 and over, NBC News reports.

Indeed, the researchers say that all of the bells and whistles on new cars may be perceived as demanding and confusing by older drivers.

“The technology we’re putting in cars today [is] unsafe for all of us to use, especially for older adults,” said Jake Nelson, AAA Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research. “Our advice to consumers is that just because technology is built into your car doesn’t mean that it’s safe to do those things.”

In the study, drivers were divided into two groups— a younger group (ages 21 to 36) and an older group (ages 55 to 75). Each participant was asked to drive a 2018 car equipped with a number of “smart” features, including navigation screens and voice activation controls.

Among the tasks drivers were asked to complete: sending a text message, programming music, programming a navigation system, and placing a call.

Overall, the study found, older drivers experienced higher levels of cognitive and visual demand, compared to younger drivers. These differences were even more pronounced for older drivers when completing any in-vehicle information system task, or IVIS. But the study found that older and younger drivers both found some tech features challenging and time-consuming.

“Given the demands associated with IVIS tasks,” the study concluded, “drivers of all ages should use these infotainment technologies only for legitimate emergencies or urgent, driving-related purposes.”

Paul Brown, a 71-year-old retired attorney who resides in Salt Lake City, is one of the drivers who took part in the study. “I don’t need something that is going to do everything for me and distract me while I’m driving,” Brown said. “Quite frankly, when I was driving, I found myself feeling as if I was driving dangerously because of all of those distractions.”

Brown said he found the large display screen situated to the right of the steering wheel in the cars he drove for the study especially distracting.

“If I was driving that kind of car, I would probably put a napkin or blanket or something over that screen so that I could concentrate on driving the car,” Brown said, adding that he prefers older, simpler cars.

Nelson said that making cars more user-friendly for older drivers ultimately makes cars safer for everyone. “If we can design a system to make it so that utilizing a car’s features is no more distracting than tuning your radio, if we can achieve that for the older adult driver, we can all benefit from that,” Nelson said.

Research contact: @NBCNews

78% of Utahns want Senator Orrin Hatch to retire

November 18, 2017

Utahns are split over whether they approve of seven-term Republican Senator Orrin Hatch’s performance in office, but a large majority are sure they don’t want him to run for office again, according to a new poll by The Salt Lake Tribune and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics.

Nearly 80% of registered voters statewide polled recently said Hatch—who is currently Senate Finance Committee Chairman and who also  serves as the Senate’s president pro tempore —shouldn’t seek re-election, with 57% saying he should “definitely not” run. Those numbers mirror results from a January poll that found 78% of Utahns think the senator should retire at end of his term.

“Even though he’s in a powerful … the voters are indicating they’re ready for a change,” said Tim Chambless, associated professor of Political Science at the university, adding, “If I were the campaign manager for Senator Hatch, I’d be very concerned.”

Hatch made news last week when he intervened to say that the President Trump “Cut, Cut, Cut” tax bill would not only benefit the rich. “I really resent anyone saying that I’m just doing this for the rich,” Hatch said, disgust evident in his voice, according to a report in Red State. “Gimme a break. I think you guys overplay that all the time and it gets old.”

Hatch has said he intends to run for another six-year term, although he won’t officially make the call until later this year. He had said during his last run in 2012 that the next run would be his final bid, but now says President Donald Trump, fellow senators and business leaders are urging him to continue on.

Research contact: tburr@sltrib.com