Understanding How Built Environment Impacts Driving Behaviours of Older Adults

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Driving is the most common mode of transportation for older adults. While recent advancements in technology in sensors and GPS have made it possible to study driving in naturalistic everyday settings, the impact of the built environment on older adults' driving behaviours has not been explored. This thesis employs Geographic Information System (GIS) techniques and Machine Learning (ML) models to investigate the impact of built environments on driving patterns of older adults. The study focuses on built environment variables within an individual’s neighbourhood such as land use diversity, public transit accessibility, and road network characteristics. It also explores built environment variables encountered along the driving routes of older adults, such as types of roads and the number of intersections. Our analysis reveals that land use diversity and public transit accessibility are significant predictors of the spatial aspects of driving behaviours, such as total trip distance. Moreover, we found a non-linear relationship between these built environment variables and the spatial aspect of driving behaviour. This complex relationship is connected to varied land use types, public transit accessibility, and road characteristics. Our findings emphasize the need to consider the specific settings of the built environment surrounding older adults’ residential areas when analyzing their driving behaviours. Additionally, the road environment can affect older adults’ driving behaviours including speed and acceleration behaviours. Our findings underscore that distance travelled on motorway road types and the number of intersections passed in a trip are the most significant predictors of the average speed and count of underspeeding events. This highlights the importance of considering built environment variables through the older adults’ driving paths when exploring driving behaviours to gain a more granular understanding of older adults’ driving behaviours. In summary, this thesis highlights the role of the built environment in shaping the driving behaviours of older adults in naturalistic settings and provides a foundation for further research into investigating older adults’ driving behaviours.
Hafezifar, R. (2024). Understanding how built environment impacts driving behaviours of older adults (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.