Aug. 25, 2006
Vol. 36, Issue 14
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University scores high in two national magazine surveys
Martin interim assistant VP for diversity and equity
Apprey appointed interim OAAA dean
Curry's Pianta gets $10M for national study
Medical Center achieves recognition for nursing excellence
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Justice wins presidential research award
Virginia Center for Digital History partners in $1 million grant
How U.Va. handles adding 3,000 new student computers to its network in one day
Dean James H. Aylor
SEAS Study
Hale a pioneer in internationalizing U.Va.
'Complicit! Contemporary American Art and Mass Culture' exhibit opens Sept. 1
New coastal research center opens on Eastern Shore
On the right track: Herman runs for life

 

SEAS Study
Car Crashes Are More Deadly for Seniors

Richard Kent
Richard Kent

By Charlotte Crystal

A study co-authored by a University of Virginia professor suggests that senior citizens will die in car accidents at a higher rate in the years ahead as America’s 75 million baby boomers age, grow more frail and continue to drive.

Already, seniors 65 and over are second-most likely to die in car accidents, after young people aged 15-24, according to a National Institute on Aging report on America’s elderly, “65+ in the United States: 2005,” released March 9.

“In general, older people are more susceptible to injury than younger people,” said Richard Kent, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at U.Va.’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. “As the population ages, the ratio of women to men also changes, going from 1-to-1 for young people to 100 women for every 35 men by age 85. And women tend to be more frail than men, making them more susceptible to injury.”

Kent studied the characteristics of car accidents and the nature of injuries sustained by older drivers in a research project titled “On the Fatal Crash Experience of Older Drivers.” The resulting paper, co-authored with Basem Henary, research associate, mechanical and aerospace engineering at U.Va., and Fumio Matsuoka, project manager for vehicle safety, Vehicle Engineering Division, Toyota Motor Corp., Japan, was named the Best Scientific Paper for 2005 by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine in Barrington, Ill., an organization dedicated to the prevention and control of injuries from motor vehicle accidents.


The researchers’ goal was to identify unique aspects of older-driver crashes — in particular, the body region injured, the severity of the crash and the circumstances surrounding fatal crashes in which they were involved — with an eye to identifying patterns that could be used in developing new technologies to assist seniors in driving safely.

The researchers studied police reports on thousands of vehicle accidents for the years 1992-2002. They examined the accidents and injuries for three groups of drivers: young adults (16-33), middle-aged adults (34-64), and seniors (65 and older).

The researchers’ findings included:
• Drivers 65 and over killed in car accidents were significantly more likely to die of a chest injury (47.3 percent vs. 24.0 percent in the youngest group)
• Younger drivers were more likely to die of a head injury (47.1 percent in the youngest group vs. 22.0 percent in the oldest group)
• Older drivers were more likely to die at a date after the crash date (“delayed death”)
• Frailty or pre-existing health conditions played a significant role in the deaths of the older group, but not in the younger group (50.0 percent of the deaths of the older group vs. 4.3 percent of the younger drivers’ deaths)
• Despite driving at lower average speeds than younger and middle-aged drivers, and a greater likelihood of wearing seatbelts, older drivers were more likely to be injured or die in an accident than younger drivers.

According to the paper, published in the September 2005 Annual Proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine: “The archetypical elderly driver fatality involves a belted, sober driver pulling into the path of an oncoming vehicle during the day and dying several days after a collision of moderate severity. Pre-existing health issues are often related to the death. In contrast, the archetype for a 30-45 year-old driver fatality involves an unbelted, impaired driver losing control of his/her vehicle at night and dying during an extremely severe, single-vehicle crash.”

The study recommended that government and industry officials consider changes that would help reduce seniors’ injuries and deaths from motor vehicle collisions. Areas deserving of attention included: roadway design, road signage, vehicle controls and active and passive safety systems.

Researchers also identified technological developments that could help older drivers. These included seatbelts that would limit the force of a crash on a driver’s body, crash-avoidance systems, technologies that would prevent elderly drivers from crossing the centerline or pulling into an intersection without having the right-of-way.

New SEAS faculty • hired since January 2006

Toby Berger
• Professor, Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
• Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University
• Member of the National Academy of Engineering
Research interests include information theory, communications, neuroinformation theory, radar/sonar, data and video compression and signal processing.

Silvia S. Blemker
• Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
• Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University
Research interests include multi-scale mechanics of muscle, image-based musculoskeletal modeling and movement disorders.

Benton H. Calhoun
• Assistant Professor, Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
• Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from MIT
Research interest is on low-power VLSI design and the impact of process scaling on memory circuits and architectures.

Joe C. Campbell
• Professor, Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
• Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
• Member of the National Academy of Engineering
Research interests include avalanche photodiodes, semiconductor lasers, optical modulators, wave guide switches and photonic integrated circuits.

Ginger M. Davis
• Assistant Professor, Department of Systems and Information Engineering
• Ph.D. in Statistics from Rice University
Research interests are evolving structure in multivariate time series, multivariate time series analysis with multiple data types, nonlinear time series and outlier detection in spatiotemporal data.

Gregory J. Gerling
• Assistant Professor, Department of Systems and Information Engineering
• Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Iowa
Research interests include haptics, human factors/ ergonomics, computational modeling of skin tissue and neural mechanotransduction and human-machine interaction.

Avik Ghosh
• Assistant Professor, Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
• Ph.D. in Physics from Ohio State University
Research interests are transport in molecular wires and in carbon nanotubes and device physics.

David Green
• Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
• NSF International Research Fellow, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium (2003-04)
Research interest is in the synthesis of well-defined nanoparticles, their dispersion into polymer solutions and melts and their suspension rheology.

Sudhanva Gurumurthi
• Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science
• Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from Pennsylvania State University
Research interests include computer architecture and storage systems.

Kim Hazelwood
• Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science
• Ph.D. in Computer Science from Harvard University
Research interests include optimizing compilers, computer architecture and binary modification.

Richard W. Kent
• Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
• Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia
Research interests are injury biomechanics and characterization of biological structures.

Steven McIntosh
• Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
• Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania
• EU Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship, University of Twente, The Netherlands
Research interests include the fields of fuel cells, catalysis, solid-state ionics and electrochemistry.

Nina Mishra
• Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science
• Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research interests include the design and analysis of algorithms for unearthing patterns in massively large, dynamic datasets.

Westley R. Weimer
• Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science
• Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley
Research interests include advancing software quality by using both static and dynamic programming language approaches.



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