Design School

School staff

James Key

Photo of  James Key

Research Group: Transport Safety Research Centre


Situation Awareness (SA) researchers have aimed to understand how such ageing affects impact on a driver's ability to attend to important information in driving environments of different complexity, and to see whether they diminished an individual driver’s SA. Generally it has been found that older drivers demonstrate poorer SA. However, there are studies that have found similar (poor) levels amongst young drivers, changing SA performance according to environment conditions, and in some cases no age effects at all.


This research seeks initially to clarify whether SA does diminish with age through undertaking an assessment of older drivers in their own cars through a Verbal (or ‘think aloud’) Protocol Analysis. The driver thinks out loud his/her thoughts whilst driving a pre-determined route. The transcript produced is then assessed through concept mapping software (Leximancer) to produce a semantic network of concept and theme words. This network is assessed, and additionally interrogated by mathematical software that can reveal some of its important underlying structural properties and provide a quantitative score for a driver’s SA.


Future work will involve comparing such scores to a driver’s visual scanning activity through what is termed ‘the useful field of view’ (UFOV), and his/her performances on secondary driving tasks.

Prof. Andrew Morris

Prof. Neil Mansfield

Situation Awareness in older drivers