Using Augmented Reality to Help Older Adults Make Safe Road-Crossing Decisions

Pedestrian injuries and deaths caused by motor vehicles are a major concern worldwide. Older adults (ages 65+) encompassed 20% of all pedestrian fatalities in 2017. Assistive technology offers a potential means of improving road safety for older pedestrians. One type of assistive technology is the use of smartphone apps to convey information to pedestrians about when it is safe or unsafe to cross a road (vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P) communication). However, this work has also shown that it is difficult to unambiguously convey prohibitive warnings that indicate when it is not safe to cross. In the study with older pedestrians, for example, participants sometimes had difficulty matching the auditory warning to the correct visual gap. As a result, they relied on their judgment rather than the prohibitive warnings. Another type of assistive technology is the use of augmented reality (AR) displays to convey relevant traffic information to pedestrians. AR displays can overlay graphics on the roadway to visually indicate which gaps between vehicles are safe vs. unsafe to cross. At present, however, little is known about how AR technology can be used to convey information to assist older pedestrians. This project aims to evaluate whether AR street overlays that offer road-crossing guidance about crossable vs. uncrossable gaps will help older adults make safer crossing decisions. Participants will perform a road-crossing task in an immersive pedestrian simulator in which they repeatedly cross a continuous stream of traffic comprised of crossable and uncrossable gaps. AR technology will be implemented by placing visual overlays directly onto the virtual environment that inform pedestrians about whether a gap is safe or unsafe to cross. Such overlays could be displayed by AR glasses in the real world. The research team expects that older pedestrians will comply with both the permissive and prohibitive overlays and will report that both are equally informative, in contrast to prior work on V2P communication.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $80000
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    University of Iowa, Iowa City

    National Advanced Driving Simulator, 2401 Oakdale Blvd
    Iowa City, IA  United States  52242-5003
  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Iowa

    MacLean Hall
    Iowa City, Iowa  United States  52240
  • Principal Investigators:

    Rector, Kyle

    Kearney, Joseph

    Plumert, Jodie

  • Start Date: 20200824
  • Expected Completion Date: 20220123
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01738850
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Safety Research Using Simulation University Transportation Center (SaferSim)
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747131
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: May 7 2020 8:05AM