Age-Related Differences in Driver Behavior Associated with AVs and the Transfer of Control Between Automated and Manual Control: A Simulator Evaluation


Lisa Molnar, PhD
Associate Research Scientist, Behavioral Sciences Group, U-M Transportation Research Institute


May 2015 – October 2016


David Eby, PhD
Research Professor and head of the Behavioral Sciences Group, U-M Transportation Research Institute; Adjunct Research Professor, U-M Psychology Department

C. Raymond Bingham, PhD
Research Professor, Department of Psychiatry, U-M School of Medicine, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, U-M School of Public Health, and head of the Young Driver Behavior and Injury Prevention Group, U-M Transportation Research Institute

Anuj Pradhan, PhD
Assistant Research Scientist, Human Factors Group, U-M Transportation Research Institute


To empirically examine specific human factors issues associated with transfer of control to characterize age related differences in behaviors and reactions to this transition.


To employ an independent measures design with three groups based on driver age (novice teen drivers age 16-19, older drivers age 65-75, and a group of comparison drivers age 25-45). Participants in each group will be presented with simulated driving environments that contain manual and automated driving modes and multiple mode transition scenarios. Each participant will complete a structured interview immediately following the simulated drive to explore self-perceptions related to the drive.


There are a number of planned and completed publications and presentations that have resulted from this project.

 Peer-reviewed publications

  • Invited peer-reviewed journal article for special issue of Risk Analysis on the “Social Science of Automated Driving” (to be submitted July 2017).

Peer-reviewed conferences presentations/abstracts

  • Molnar, LJ, Pradhan, AK, Eby, DW, Ryan, L & Bingham, CR. (2017 accepted). Behavioral differences between older and younger drivers associated with automated vehicles and the transfer of control between automated and manual control. 21st IAGG World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics. July 23-27, San Francisco, CA.
  • Pradhan, AK, Molnar, LJ, Ryan, L, Eby, D & Bingham, R. (2016). A driving simulator examination of age-related differences in driver behaviors in automated vehicles. Symposium on Meeting the Challenges of Safe Transportation in an Aging Society. September 13-15, Ann Arbor, MI.
  • Molnar, LJ, Pradhan, AK, Eby, DW, Bingham, CR & Ryan, L. (2016) Age-related differences in driver behavior associated with automatic vehicles and the transfer of control between automated and manual control: A simulator study. 2nd International Conference on Human Aspects of IT for the Aged Population. July 20, Toronto, CA.
  • Pradhan, AK, Molnar, LJ, Ryan, L. (2016). Vehicle Automation and the Driver Age: Human Factors Implications. Automated Vehicles Symposium 2016. July 19-21, San Francisco, CA.

Findings inform Mcity’s understanding of the challenges and opportunities of deploying connected and automated vehicles in the following ways:

  • We need to study the transitioning process between automated and manual driving not just in the simulator but in actual automated vehicles – for example, using the Mcity test facility.
  • There are age differences in behaviors and perceptions with regard to automated vehicles – research into system design needs to take these into account and include multiple age groups.
  • Issues around acceptance, trust, and control appear to be interrelated and integral to understanding technology use – however, we need better measures of these factors, particularly preference for control.