Cock pit Design

Forschungsschwerpunkt Fahrzeugergonomie

Elderly Women and Vehicle Cockpit Design – a Questionnaire Analysis

Fig.1: Example from questionnaire


The aim of this investigation is to find out what are the requirements on vehicle design for elderly female drivers (aged 50 and older). The motivation for this topic is based on the following facts:

  • women's role in society has changed drastically
  • elderly are an increasing part of the economy (JEFF 2000)
  • the number of women will rise as a result of increased life expectancy (NHTSA 1999)
  • elderly women will more and more depend on vehicles for transportation because “tomorrow's elderly women will have smaller families with fewer children to provide social and transportation support, aided by high divorce rates among today's younger and middle-aged women” (NHTSA 1999).

This gives some examples why this topic is of crucial importance especially for automotive manufacturer.

Middle weighting of buying criteria regarding functional aspects for women (n=178) and men (n=49) with 95% confidence interval


This literature research about elderly woemen and buying pattern was completed. In a further step hypotheses were formulated, based on the results of the literature research. In addition a questionnaire was designed with 37 main questions about safety, practical aspects, vehicle design, and cockpit design. Structured answers were given. But at some questions it was also possible to answer at one's own option and name desires.

These questionnaires were given to elderly women. A smaller amount of the questionnaires were past to a male control group. Total number of participants was 217, which included 178 women and 49 men. The average age of the subjects was 59 years within the age range of 48 to 72 years.


The three most important criteria when deciding to purchase a car were for men and women price, look and safety. 60 percent of asked men and women drive their car every single day and 30 percent use it several times per week. While all men drive their own car, nearly 10 percent of the women do not possess her own car. A car represents for the responded persons locomotion, independence and time saving. Fun and prestige were less important.

There are few differences between elderly women and men rating the importance of functional aspects of the car for the buying decision (see Fig. 1). Elderly female drivers rate the importance of practical criteria such as good visibility of the vehicle boundary, low car boot edge, from inside lockable and rain sensor significant higher than the elderly male drivers. Elderly men rate driver information and assistance systems such as navigation system, cruise control, steering wheel with multiple functions and radio significant higher than the older women.


  • ABENDROTH, B.; DIDIER, M.; DIAZ-ZELEDON, M.: Elderly females and vehicle cockpit design – a questionnaire analysis, In: Proceedings IEA 2006 Congress, 16th World Congress on Ergonomics, 10.-14.07.2006, Maastricht, Niederlande, CD-ROM-Ausgabe