Human beings are imperfect, and one thing we’ve consistently tried to get better at is going places faster. Motor vehicles have been around since the late 19th and early 20th century, and we’ve made leaps and bonds in terms of performance, safety, and fuel efficiency. In fact, despite all our shortcoming, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the fatality rate for vehicle collisions hit a historic low in 2011 and hasn’t risen dramatically since. However, there is another danger that hasn’t abated when it comes to driver safety in the U.S.
Driving Safety For Seniors
The odds of being involved in a fatal crash increases at every age starting in the mid 60’s, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Many individuals begin to stop driving at this age, but this doesn’t have to be the case anymore thanks to advances in automated driving and driving assistance technology. Age related reductions in driving are akin to a loss in personal freedom and independence, and reduces seniors ability to be mobile and social.
As the United States senior population slowly balloons thanks to the boomer influx, we are going to see a massive shift in driving technology to accommodate and provide safe driving for this population. Fully automated, ai assisted, and driverless cars could be the path to success that our infrastructure will need. Currently, only a small portion of current cars on the road come equipped with the latest in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Ideally, seniors and everyone else will one day be able to take an automated car everywhere they go, but for now, seniors should invest in powerful, effective vehicles equipped with ADAS.
Automated and ADAS Vehicles
Automated Vehicles are split into four different levels of proficiency. They are as follows:
- Level 0 - Provide functionality and assistance but no automated control
- Level 1 - Provide functionality and assistance and automated control over 1 primary driving system, such as electronic stability control, cruise control, and lane keeping assist. These are mandated on any vehicle made during or after 2012 in the United States.
- Level 2 - Provide functionality and assistance and automated control over 2 primary driving functions. This includes lateral and longitudinal control in traffic jams, and GM’s Super Cruise technology.
- Level 3 - These will provide limited self-driving automation. As defined by the NHTSA, this level of automation allows the driver to cede “full control of all safety-critical functions” under certain conditions. This is what we currently have on the road assisted by human drivers.
- Level 4 - The utopian vision of a self driving car, fully capable of picking up and dropping off passengers without the need for human monitoring.
How AI (Artificial Intelligence) Can Increase Senior Driving Safety
There are key safety advances that older drivers can benefit from by utilizing lower level ADAS vehicles. These technologies can save lives by reducing the potential for human error to cause an accident. Emergency braking, rear-view cameras, operational data, collision alert, and blind spot monitors all help to increase the relative safety of driving a motor vehicle for those of all ages.
Every year, the IHSS, or Insurance Institute of Highway Safety puts out its list of the safest cars on the market. These vehicles typically perform the best in collisions and also have numerous additional features that increase safety for seniors. Some of the best new technology features to look for in your next vehicle are:
Although there are some cars with forward collision warning systems, for seniors, it may be preferable to find a model that can take over and automatically apply the brakes to lessen or avoid the impact of a collision.
Blind Spot/Lane Departure Warning
Blind Spot Warning systems use a camera or sensor to keep an eye on the area alongside the car, ensuring that the driver receives a notification if any vehicle strays nears them or if they stray into another lane. Departure warning uses cameras to focus on lane markers and sounds off when the driver inadvertently strays out of them.
Adaptive Cruise Control
This tech advancement adds more cool features to cruise control. Once you’ve engaged in a set speed, the ai takes over and uses camera sensors to either speed up or slow down in relation to surrounding traffic and, if wanted, driver input.
Adaptive headlights are high intensity headlamps that move in tandem with the car as it turns, essentially angling themselves to whatever direction the car is turning in in order to more effectively lighting the road conditions ahead.
Automatic Day/Night Mirrors
Automatic Day/Night Mirrors are for those who may have vision problems when driving their vehicle at night. These mirrors adjust according to time of day and can help minimize glare from the inside of the vehicle when driving in the dark.
Extendable Sun Visors
Extendable Sun Visors are also ideal for those who have vision problems, except these are used during the day. Having extendable sun visor features helps prevent glare from the sun, and can help drivers recover eyesight from sun overload.
GPS Navigation Systems
GPS has been around for a while now, but recent advancements have made it an even more necessary feature for senior drivers. As a senior, you should have an up-to-date nav system, especially if you have trouble reading street signs. The wide legible screen makes navigating unknown areas easier and safer. Newer models even incorporate voice to streamline the process further.
Self-Parking may be too much for some drivers to want to give up, but for those with a limited upper body range of motion, they are a necessity. Ford and General Motors offer several models that have self-parking features that can automatically steer the vehicle into a reasonably sized parking space.
Starting later in 2018, rear backup cameras will become a requirement in most new vehicles. Rear back up cameras can be a blessing to senior drivers with limited neck and upper back range of motion.
Adjustable Steering Wheel
Once again, this feature is perfect for those with limited body rotation. Having this tilting wheels helps the driver find a comfortable driving position and maintain a suitable distance from the front airbag deployment zone.
If you’re looking for the ideal vehicle for yourself or a loved one who is a senior, we recommend checking out the IIHS Top Safety Picks for 2018. If you’re looking for a senior housing community that offers top rated amenities, high quality of living, and satisfied residents, check out Landmark Senior Living near me locations in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and New Mexico.