As the U.S. population ages, there are more people, including drivers, over the age of 65. To address seniors’ mobility needs, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech are hosting the Senior Mobility Awareness Symposium: Integrating Science, Policy, and Practice, sponsored by the National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence

This event will take place at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center on Dec. 6.

"The symposium will gather transportation researchers, professionals who work with older adults, policy makers, and members of the community with the goal of presenting usable, practical information that will enhance awareness and facilitate development of viable solutions for addressing the changing transportation needs of our older population," said Nancy Brossoie, senior research associate at the Center for Gerontology.

"There is much to be gained by joining this conversation. The topic is timely and the speakers are knowledgeable and leaders in their fields," said Symposium Chair Jon Antin, human factors research scientist and Light Vehicle Safety Group leader with the Center for Automotive Safety Research at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

"Integration is the focus of the symposium – to establish communication and have ongoing communication so we have a mechanism for thought exchange and problem solving," said Antin. "We want to reach out to the community and share what we know, hear their concerns, and create a foundation for addressing problems together. Our long- term goal is to implement this process on a large scale, with other states and locations."

Antin will speak at a morning session on Functional Assessment and Training. Other speakers are Jacquelin Branche, healthcare compliance officer with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Medical Review Services, and David W. Eby, research professor and head of the behavioral sciences group at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and director of the Michigan Center for Advancing Safe Transportation throughout the Lifespan.

Brossoie will be one of three speakers at an afternoon session on Vehicle, Infrastructure, and Education-Based Countermeasures.  The other speakers at that session are Bruce Mehler, research scientist with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, and Julie Lee, vice president for the driver safety program with AARP Virginia.

Keynoter speakers will be, opening, Essie Wagner, older driver program analyst with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, who will speak on the Federal Perspective on Senior Mobility, and at lunch, Kathryn Freund, founder and president of  Independent Transportation Network, called ITNAmerica, who will speak on alternate transportation models for seniors.

"All of the sessions are interactive, but especially the final session, which is designed as an open forum," said Antin. "The reception will also allow people to make connections, as will the 90-minute mid-day break for attendees to visit vendor and organization booths and see a demonstration of a research vehicle designed to capture senior driving data, which we hope will help us evaluate different approaches to using brain training to enhance driving safety."

For more information, contact Antin via email or call 540-231-1579.

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