The Effects of Age, Spatial Ability, and Navigational Information on Navigational Performance

The purpose of the study reported here was to examine whether age and spatial ability are factors that influence a driver's ability to navigate and use navigational displays. These factors were examined because previous research suggests that spatial ability may underlie navigational performance, including route-following and map-reading, and that these skills may diminish with age. Thus, older drivers and drivers with weak navigational skills, may have a heightened need for, and be particularly served by, in-vehicle route guidance displays found in an Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS). A total of 56 drivers were tested on spatial ability. The drivers then performed a navigational task in a part-task driving simulator using different navigational aids, including: (1) text directions, (2) an enlarged, mounted paper map, (3) a standard-scale paper map, and (4) a turn-by-turn route guidance ATIS display. The major findings were that: (1) older drivers showed worse navigational performance than younger drivers, (2) the worse performance found in the older group was attributable to their lower spatial ability, (3) spatial ability predicted navigational performance, and (4) a simulated ATIS turn-by-turn display enhanced navigational performance. The implications of the results are that navigational ability declines with age due to decrements in spatial ability and perceptual speed, and ATIS route guidance has the potential to facilitate navigational performance in drivers of varying spatial abilities and age.

  • Record URL:
  • Corporate Authors:

    Science Applications International Corporation

    1710 Goodridge Drive
    McLean, VA  United States  22102

    Federal Highway Administration

    Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, 6300 Georgetown Pike
    McLean, VA  United States  22101
  • Authors:
    • Wochinger, K
    • Boehm-Davis, D
  • Publication Date: 1995-12


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 52 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00720259
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FHWA-RD-95-166, 3A6b0082
  • Contract Numbers: DTFH61-94-C-00003
  • Files: NTL, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Apr 23 1996 12:00AM