Farming Hazards for Seniors

Picture of Kayla Faust, PhD

Kayla Faust, PhD

University of Iowa

Detection of Environmental Hazards by Senior Farmers Using a Simulated Tractor Environment

Kayla Faust, PhD, formerly a graduate student in the College of Public Health, used the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) for a research study on how age and factors associated with age, such as hypertension and medication use, affect driving performance. In order to put farmers in situations researchers cannot ethically put them in real life, she developed a miniSim™, a virtual reality simulator that mimics the operation and feel of a real tractor cab and one of only two in the world. Senior farmers were asked to drive the miniSim™ and provide feedback on how realistic it felt, with the goal of making it as close to real life as possible. Dr. Faust then measured farmers’ responses in dangerous situations, finding that aging farmers took longer to respond. This finding is significant because in these types of situations, every second counts.