According to new studies by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, emerging automotive technologies and safe driving habits can help older drivers remain behind the wheel longer. Being that seniors who give up driving are almost two times as likely to develop depression and five times as likely to enter a long-term care facility, this information is of great importance.
The researchers examined 16 advanced vehicle technologies and determined that six of these can provide high value for older adults by potentially reducing crashes and improving the ease and comfort of driving:
- Forward collision warning / mitigation: These systems can help prevent crashes by warning drivers of a potential collision or by automatically applying the brakes. For older drivers, this technology can improve reaction times and reduce crashes by up to 20 percent.
- Automatic crash notification: These systems automatically alert emergency services in the event of a crash. Older drivers are more likely to suffer from the serious effects of a crash because of their age, which means these systems can provide a greater safety benefit to seniors.
- Park assist with rearview display: This technology includes backup cameras and obstacle-detection warning systems, which can help prevent crashes when pulling out of a parking space. About 95 percent of seniors want these systems in their next vehicle, while 55 percent reported that it can help reduce driver stress and workload.
- Parking assist with cross-traffic warning: These systems utilize radar sensor technology to notify drivers of crossing vehicles when backing out of a parking space, and on some vehicles, the systems automatically can apply the brakes to prevent a collision.
- Semi-autonomous parking assistance: These systems take over steering while moving into a parallel parking space, which can reduce stress and make parking easier for older drivers.
- Navigation assistance: Turn-by-turn GPS navigation systems can provide older drivers with increased feelings of safety, confidence, attentiveness and relaxation, which can help seniors remain focused on the road and comfortable behind the wheel.
In Pennsylvania, AAA’s RoadWise Driver is a PennDOT approved course to help senior drivers freshen their knowledge and skills, as well as learn ways to reduce risk while on the road.