How New Technology Is Keeping Seniors Safer on the Road
Posted in Safety on November 30, 2015
Getting older is a fact of life. But weakened eyesight, poor reaction times, and altered cognitive patterns often make driving a hazard for seniors and other drivers on the road.
People in this age group often don’t want to transition away from independence or burden their families, and many continue to work late in life. However, they may not know their driving skills have faded until something bad happens. The good news is new vehicle technology makes it safer than ever for the aging population to hold onto its driving independence longer and recognize when it’s time to let someone else take the wheel.
Here are some of the new technologies and how they can help seniors stay safely mobile. We’ve also outlined a few they may want to avoid:
- Back up cameras. Even drivers in their prime make mistakes when backing down the driveway or in a parking lot. Back up cameras make it easier for people who may not have a significant range of motion to see what’s directly behind the vehicle. They don’t eliminate the need to look over the shoulder but can enhance the scope of visibility for all drivers when used properly.
- Night vision. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration is studying the safety enhancement of infrared night vision systems in new vehicles, along with its role in keeping certain demographics safer. A handful of vehicles currently offer this technology, but preliminary findings indicate it may provide better safety for young drivers. Although the technology definitely makes seeing and identifying objects at night easier, the current systems may prove too distracting for seniors to gain much benefit.
- Smart features for older drivers. Many older drivers need to choose the right vehicle for their needs to get the most out of their driving experiences later in life. AAA has a tool that allows seniors to browse for vehicles based on a selected list of criteria benefiting older drivers. They can find the best price, the most comfort, and the safety features needed when they input what they’re looking for. For instance, someone who has arthritis may need a larger gear shift and a dashboard that doesn’t require too much dexterity.
- Sensor signals while driving. Several auto makers offer increased road safety in the form of signals that let drivers know when they get too close to another object or start to move out of a lane. For senior drivers who may not notice when they get too close to other cars, start to drift out of a lane, or fail to stop early enough to prevent a rear-end collision, these sensors can really help improve reaction times.
- Adaptive cruise control (ACC). Seniors are more likely to use cruise control, which decreases unsafe behaviors – such as moving in and out of lanes too often. ACC takes traditional cruise control one step further and automatically decelerates when a lead vehicle starts to slow down, and warns drivers in time to prevent collisions. For this technology to work properly, drivers need to clearly understand the way the system operates and when they need to press the brakes to prevent an auto accident.
In addition to these assistive technologies, Google edges closer and closer to driverless vehicles. Until then, help the older folks in your life find the helpful technologies needed to keep themselves and others safe on the roadways. You may want to consider some of the same technologies to help young drivers stay safe! Many of these will likely become standard features in the coming years, helping people of all ages make better decisions and decrease the rate of reckless behaviors and accidents.
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