DriverLab

The social costs of motor vehicle collisions in Canada in terms of loss of life, medical treatment, rehabilitation, lost productivity and property damage are measured in tens of billions of dollars. With the risk of collision higher among young drivers and a growing elderly population, finding better ways to assess and train drivers as well as optimize vehicle design is an urgent issue. 

In partnership with the Ministry of Transportation and the auto industry, Toronto Rehab is developing a one-of-a-kind driving simulator to accurately assess the driving abilities of high risk populations, such as those with physical, sensory, or cognitive impairments (as are often present in older adults) and young drivers. The research outcomes of DriverLab will improve training approaches and testing standards, enable individualized driving recommendations and ensure that drivers stay safe on the roads.

DriverLab will be able to test and create the realistic driving dynamics needed for driver assessment. 

The car within the lab will retain its original internal components (e.g. steering wheel, gas/brake pedals, seats, dashboards), but will also contain customizable interfaces and sophisticated measurement devices such as: a projection system that will immerse users in the virtual environment; a surround-sound system to accurately reproduce tire rumble, wind roar, traffic and engine sounds; and unique features including a weather simulator and a robotic glare simulator.

With the advent of DriverLab, key research objectives will be to:

  • Support independent aging through customized licensing for individual-based driving restrictions
  • Examine the impact of medical conditions on driving performance
  • Examine the effects of medication on driving performance
  • Address the associations between major sleep disorders and driving performance
  • Establish best practices for driver testing and training
  • Develop optimized driving simulation technologies
  • Evaluate vehicle design features for an aging population
The integration of this innovative technology within Toronto Rehab will place Ontario as a global leader in driving research and revolutionize driving safety standards nationwide.

DriverLab in the media:
Toronto Star (June 2014)
The Economist (November 2015)

Currently, there is no effective validated assessment tool that can be used to predict crash risk in an individual driver. Further, on-road driving tests typically occur during clear, daytime conditions and thus, do not permit driving evaluations under common challenging conditions, such as nighttime, poor weather, glare, and conditions of high cognitive load or unexpected events. The development of improved methods of driver assessment and training could reduce the number of collisions, thus saving lives and saving money.

To join your industry partners in supporting this initiative, please contact:

Arlene Manankil-Boyce, Director of Development
416-597-3422 ext. 3545
arlene.boyce@uhn.ca

Learn more about Research at Toronto Rehab