Older drivers who want to continue driving might still be able to, thanks to new artificial intelligence in the world of automobile tech. New sensors and autopilot features will make it easier to park, stay in-lane, avoid collisions, and even locate the car in a parking lot. That being said, there are also downsides to having updated gadgetry.
Contrary to popular belief, senior drivers are becoming the fastest-growing demographic, with one in five drivers expected on the road by 2030. Their comfort and safety must be taken into account, not only for their peace of mind, but for everyone else on the road as well. Taking into account the inherent challenges that seniors already face with the need to control a multi-ton vehicle, it is also now expected for them to climb a relatively steep learning curve. In addition, seniors themselves might not be the best at self-regulating, which means more safety measures must be put into place to protect everybody.
The ultimate dream for most seniors is to be safely transported via an autonomous vehicle to their destination and then safety brought back home. The truth is that technology is not quite there yet. We are still at a point where human monitoring and intervention is required, along with quick reaction time and high cognitive function. Neither of these describe seniors. Another area they seem to falter is in inadequate surveillance. This means they either forgot to check their surroundings or didn’t notice an obstacle before driving.
Distraction is the leading cause of accidents, and it only takes an instant to make a mistake. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers between the ages of 55 and 75 took their attention off the road for an average of 4.7 to 8.6 seconds longer than the 21-36 group while programming navigation systems and tuning the radio. The study was done using in-vehicle infotainment technology, which is supposed to be hands-free and therefore, safer. Voice-command functions are designed to keep attention on the road, yet seniors are still too distracted. Many surveyed groups have noted that the complex menus and poor design features have made it unintuitive for a certain generation.