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Tech that older drivers should love

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Posted: 3 pm ET
The Mercedes-Benz F015 self-driving car was unveiled earlier this year at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. © STEVE MARCUS/Reuters/Corbis

The Mercedes-Benz F015 Luxury in Motion self-driving concept car was unveiled earlier this year at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. © STEVE MARCUS/Reuters/Corbis

A boomer driver should consider the increasing availability of automotive technology and be willing to pay for it -- even if it drives up the price of a vehicle compared to less well-equipped cars, says Jodi Olshevski, a gerontologist and executive director of The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence.

"Driving is the glue that keeps older people connected to communities and the people who are important to them. It is closely tied to well being and quality of life. We think it is important for people to think about this when they are in the market for a new car and seriously consider new technologies that can keep them on the road for a longer period of time," Olshevski says.

The center, in conjunction with the MIT AgeLab, identified 10 technologies that are readily available and worth considering:

  1. Smart headlights. These lights adjust to conditions and Olshevski says they are particularly good for drivers who have night vision limitations.
  2. Emergency response systems. If you have an accident or a health problem, these systems can get an ambulance to you quickly.
  3. Backup cameras. These make going in reverse safer, especially for people who have trouble turning around to look behind them. Cameras are required to be in all new lightweight vehicles by May 2018.
  4. Blind-spot warning systems. Another tool that helps people with limited range of motion, especially when parking or changing lanes.
  5. Lane departure warning systems. The car vibrates if you drift outside your lane, Olshevski says.
  6. Vehicle stability control. These devices head the car in the right direction when the driver underestimates the angle of a curve or hits a slippery patch.
  7. Assistive parking systems. Makes parallel parking challenges a thing of the past.
  8. Voice-activated systems. You can turn systems like windshield wipers and the radio on and off using only your voice.
  9. Crash-mitigation systems. In the event of an imminent crash, the car automatically brakes and does other things to mitigate damage and injury. Ten manufacturers have agreed to add automatic emergency braking to all new vehicles.
  10. Drowsy driver alerts. If you start to nod off, the car refocuses you.

In a study of attitudes related to these technologies, The Hartford and MIT found that depending on the technology, about two-thirds to three-quarters of drivers were enthusiastic about adoption. But surprisingly, the majority were not particularly interested in assistive parking systems or adaptive cruise control. "We heard from a lot of people that these systems take control away from the driver," Olshevski says.

The research also found mixed emotions about self-driving cars. 70% of those surveyed said they would test-drive a self-driving car, but only 31% would purchase one, even if the price was the same as a conventional car.

Whether you like it or not -- change is on the way. Since The Hartford did a similar study in 2012, these technologies have gone from futuristic to widely available, Olshevski says. "And we're seeing the safety benefits."

Here's more about automotive safety technology.

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1 Comment
c jones
November 12, 2015 at 9:53 am

which current models offer all of these technologies?