Mobility in Age

Principle investigators:
Melanie Karthaus, Stephan Getzmann, Edmund Wascher

Julian Reiser, Silvana Springer

DFG KA 4120/2-1; BASt (FE 82.0649/2016): DoBoLSiS

Prof. Dr. Georg Rudinger (uz bonn)

For the majority of older adults, driving a car is of essential importance for mobility and participation in social life. However, aging significantly increases the risk of severe traffic accidence, in particular in critical driving situations. On the other hand, very young and very old drivers are known to have specific problems compared to middle-aged drivers, causing specific risks and types of accidents. Assuming a higher proportion of these age groups, the risk of age-specific traffic accidents is expected to even increase in the future.

The project „Mobility in Aging“ investigates the sources of decreasing roadworthiness and the interrelations of driving performance, aging, and age-related changes in sensory, cognitive, and motor functions. We analyse driving behaviour of younger and older adults both in real traffic and in driving simulator environments. In studies of monotony and fatigue on driving performance, we investigate effects of cognitive changes in elderly on motoring and participating in (road) traffic, using behavioural and electrophysiological measures. In addition, we test effects of distracting auditory and visual stimuli (e.g., given by the operation of navigation systems) on driving performances in young, middle-aged, and old drivers.

The DFG project ‘Car driving under distraction: effects on brain activity and driving performance in young, middle-aged and older drivers’ investigates age-specific distraction effects and compensation mechanisms as well as possible sources of differences between high and low performing drivers by analysis of driving performance and EEG measures. Our results will be utilized to improve traffic-related designs and to develop age-specific training methods for drivers of different ages. In the BASt longitudinal study DoBoLSiS the development of traffic safety-related personal characteristics of seniors are investigated a over period of five years. The aim here is to sensitize older drivers for age-related deficits and risks and to derive predictors for future driving ability of seniors.


  • Wascher E, Getzmann S, Karthaus M: Driver state examination – treading new paths. Accident Analysis & Prevention 91:157-165 (2016)
  • Karthaus M, Willemssen R, Joiko S, Falkenstein M: Kompensationsstrategien von älteren Verkehrsteilnehmern nach einer VZR-Auffälligkeit. Bremen: Fachverlag NW, Schünemann Verlag, 2015 (Berichte der Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen, Heft M 254)
  • Falkenstein M, Poschadel S, Joiko S: Erkenntnisstand zu Verkehrssicherheitsmaßnahmen für ältere Verkehrsteilnehmer. Bremen: Fachverlag NW, Schünemann Verlag, 2014 (Berichte der Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen, Heft M 248)
  • Poschadel S, Falkenstein M, Rinkenauer G, Mendzheritskiy G, Fimm B, Worringer B., Engin T, Kleinemas U, Rudinger G: Verkehrssicherheitsrelevante Leistungspotenziale, Defizite und Kompensationsmöglichkeiten älterer Autofahrer. Bremerhaven: Wirtschaftsverlag NW, 2013 (2012) (Berichte der Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen, Reihe M, H. 231)
  • Hahn M, Wild-Wall N, Falkenstein M: Age-related changes of neural control processes and their significance for driving performance. In: Schlick CM, Frieling E, Wegge J (Eds.): Age-differentiated work systems (pp 299-317). Heidelberg: Springer, 2013
  • Hahn M, Wild-Wall N, Falkenstein M: Age-related differences in performance and stimulus processing in dual task situation. Brain Research 1414: 66-76 (2011)
  • Wild-Wall N, Hahn M, Falkenstein M: Preparatory processes and compensatory effort in older and younger participants in a driving-like dual task. Human Factors 53: 91-102 (2011)