Car Tech to Benefit Aging Drivers

The MIT Age Lab teamed up with The Hartford insurance company to do research on what in-car technology will have the biggest impact on aging and senior drivers. Their top ten list includes smart headlights, rear view camera systems and collission avoidance systems.

While older drivers often get a bad reputation for being slow or dangerous on the road, Jodi Olshevski of The Hartford said that's actually a misconception.

"If there is a driver that's unsafe on the road it's typically because of an underlying health issue, not because of age," Olshevski added.    

Their survey found the number one conern of aging drivers was driving at night, Joe Coughlin of the MIT Age Lab said. 

Here is the technology MIT and The Hartford identified as having the biggest impact:

1. Smart headlights: adjust the range and intensity of light based on the distance of traffic and to reduce glare and improve night vision

2. Emergency response systems: offer quick assistance to drivers in the case of a medical emergency or collision, often allowing emergency personnel to get to the scene more quickly

3. Reverse monitoring systems: warn of objects to the rear of the vehicle to help drivers judge distances and back up safely, and helps drivers with reduced flexibility

4. Blind spot warning systems: warn drivers of objects in blind spots, especially while changing lanes and parking, and helps those with limited range of motion

5. Lane departure warning: monitors the vehicle's position and warns the driver if the vehicle deviates outside the lane, helping drivers stay in their lane

6. Vehicle stability control: helps to automatically bring the vehicle back in the intended line of travel, particularly in situations where the driver underestimates the angle of a curve or experiences weather effects, and reduces the likelihood of a crash

7. Assistive parking systems: enable vehicles to park on their own or indicates distance to objects, reducing driver stress, making parking easier, and increasing the places that a driver can park

8. Voice activated systems: allow drivers to access features by voice command so they can keep focused on the road

9. Crash mitigation systems: detect when the vehicle may be in danger of a collision and can help to minimize injuries to passengers

10. Drowsy driver alerts: monitor the degree to which a driver may be inattentive while on the road and helps alert drivers to the driving task
 

Many of the features identified are currently available but at a steep cost. But, in the future, the tech may become more commonplace. 

"The beauty of technology as it often starts at the luxury end, [but] it's pretty clear that this technology will start to move down to lower and more affordable... cars as well," said Coughlin. 

Interestingly enough, one feature didn't make the list: self-driving cars.
 
"[The robotic] vehicle will be amazing for all drivers if and when they come out, but I think we are going to have to wait a little while," Coughlin said. 
Autonomous cars may be closer to reality than we think, however. Google's already logged 300,000 miles in theirs, but the technology still has a ways to go.

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