Car Safety Technology for Mature Drivers
Can new technologies in automobiles help mature drivers to stay behind the wheel as they age? According to a recent article on Cars.com, there are a number of new car safety features that “provide mature drivers the opportunity to stay on the road longer—and more safely.”
Currently, there are several organizations that focus on the safety of older drivers, including but not limited to:
- AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety;
- University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute;
- Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence; and
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab.
Together, these organizations have looked into various new safety features that could help older drivers remain on the road safely. Recently, the MIT AgeLab and the Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence conducted a survey of more than 300 drivers between the ages of 50 to 69. Through that survey, the organizations determined that older drivers would be most amenable to using the following safety features:
- Adaptive or “Smart” headlights: adaptive headlights, according to the article, “adjust the range and intensity of light based on traffic distance, reduced glare, and improved night vision.” In addition, some adaptive headlight technologies turn or pivot with the car as it turns. Because older drivers can have “age-related vision changes,” this kind of technology can help them see the road better.
- Backup camera: for older drivers who may have limited flexibility in the neck or shoulders, backup cameras can help display what is behind the vehicle.
- Blind spot monitors: for mature drivers who are dealing with “a limited range of motion,” blind spot monitors can help these drivers change lanes or park a car safely.
- Forward collision warning systems: mature drivers, the article explains, may have a delayed reaction time. Therefore, it can be difficult to respond in time to prevent an accident (or at least the severity of one). A forward collision warning system can help.
- Lane departure warning system: according to the article, this type of technology can actually reduce accidents by “up to 30%” through “visual, vibration, or audible alerts.”
Learning More About Older Drivers
Do we need to focus auto safety technology on older, or mature, drivers? According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 2012, nearly 36 million drivers aged 65 and older have driver’s licenses. Yet, “the risk of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash increases as you age.” What can older adults do to stay safe? The CDC recommends the following:
- Always wear a seatbelt;
- Only drive in good weather conditions and daytime;
- Avoid driving after drinking any alcohol;
- Regularly exercise to increase flexibility;
- Review your medications with your doctor to reduce side-effects that could result in an accident;
- Have your eyes checked by your doctor at least once per year;
- Leave a sufficient following distance; and
- Avoid distracted driving.