April 28, 2016
While cutting back or discontinuing driving might be on the minds of some who are growing older, automobile buying trends don’t coincide with that idea. The car research firm Edmunds.com has seen new car buyers over the age of 55 increase from 33 percent to 42 percent over a five-year period.
More importantly, assistive technologies are helping to keep older drivers safe on the road longer. Here are a few of those strategies from the Hartford Funds and MIT AgeLab:
Smart Headlights: Smart headlights are lights that change intensity and angle of direction to reduce glare and make driving easier at night or during inclement weather.
Emergency Response Systems: These systems—like OnStar—have been around for a while. Having a rapid response to a medical emergency or accident can help put older drivers at ease.
Blind Spot Warning Systems: These systems warn you of objects or other vehicles that are in the car’s blind spot, helping to make merging into traffic and changing lanes much safer tasks. According to the AgeLab research, merging into traffic and changing lanes make up 24% of the surveyed older drivers’ biggest concerns when behind the wheel. This new feature also benefits drivers who have difficulty craning their neck.
Assistive Parking Systems: Cars with assistive technology may have the ability to park themselves, without needing the driver. Assistive parking systems can also let someone know distances to spots and will warn of any objects in the way.
Drowsy Driver Alerts: Drowsy driving alert technology lets you know when your inattention or tiredness is a problem. It creates an alert that brings your attention back to the task at hand. This is an incredibly important safe driving feature, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 accidents each year.
Experts note that while these systems are meant to assist, they will not compensate for lack of abilities past a certain point. There’s also still room for user error or the failure of this technology to work correctly.
It’s best to introduce these technologies as soon as possible so there’s time to get used to them, explained driving expert Elin Schold Davis from the American Occupational Therapy Association.
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