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Innovations in Driving Safety for Older Americans

Jul 26 2016

By Fay Niselbaum

      According to the Federal Highway Administration, there are well over two million licensed drivers in the United States over the age of 85. With the impending “silver tsunami” as baby boomers hit the age of 65, there will be more elderly drivers on the roads than ever. Aging Americans are living longer. They’re more active. As the first generation where almost everyone earned their license in adolescence and has been driving ever since, this generation expects to be able to stay on the roads as long as possible.

The problem? All too often, older drivers are the cause of accidents and even fatalities across the nation’s highways. In fact, the CogniFit Senior Driver app was designed to improve reaction time, help older Americans handle multiple driving tasks and identify potential road threat recognition. Another great app, DriveSharp focuses on the visual aspect of safe driving and is clinically proven to train the brain to think and react faster on the road, which can decrease the risk of an accident by 50%.

      Thankfully, vehicle safety advances have kept up with the greying of America. They’ve made unbelievable progress over the last half century, and now, vehicle safety is entering an entirely new era. Speeding violations lawyer Zev Goldstein quotes General Motors CEO Mary Barra; “We’re going to see more change in the next five to ten years than we’ve seen in the last 50.” The emerging vehicle safety technologies which will soon hit the shelves for mass use will significantly improve the quality of life for baby boomers who want to remain behind the wheel for many years to come.

Intelligent Brake Lights
       All too often, it’s necessary to slam on the brakes quickly in order to avoid a collision—and if the car behind you is following too closely, that means that in avoiding one collision, you’ve moved straight on to another one! Thanks to intelligent brake light technology, however, cars will soon be able to communicate with one another. Drivers in following cars will get more warning that the individual in front of them has stopped, typically in the form of a flashing dash light indicator. This technology will improve visibility in bad conditions and give older Americans and those sharing the roads with them more adequate warning.

Smart Windshields
       In bad weather or with low visibility, it can be difficult even for drivers with 20/20 vision to adequately see everything that’s going on around them. Newly patented smart windshields, however, improve any driver’s ability to see and react to what’s going on around them. These windshields augment the available picture to share more information with the driver, drawing attention to potential obstacles and making it easier to avoid things like running animals or a pedestrian in the road.

Night Vision Enhancements
      Seeing in the dark is difficult for many individuals, but it’s worse as we age and our vision deteriorates. Thankfully, night vision enhancements are quickly making their way to the shelves. The latest available technology uses true night vision systems to project images of the surrounding conditions, making it easier for drivers to perceive everything from road markers and street signs to pedestrians and vehicles.

Automated Parking Systems
       Maneuvering in a crowded parking lot or aiming for on-the-street parking can be a challenge. Automated parking, on the other hand, removes the difficulty. With control handed over to the car, older Americans can sit back and let the car park itself, making their arrival the simplest part of the drive.

Lane Departure Warning Systems
      Whether they’re nodding off behind the wheel or simply having trouble navigating, drivers who drift out of their lanes can be the cause of serious accidents. Thanks to lane departure warning systems, however, it’s easier than ever to keep the car between the necessary lines. This warning system will notify the driver any time they start to drift, enabling them to move back into their lane before an accident occurs.

Crash Notification and Avoidance Technologies
       Rear backup cameras are already aware of impending accidents and able to notify drivers that it’s coming. With crash avoidance technology, no threat goes unnoticed. Any time something comes too close to the car, the driver will be notified. In this way, cars will help drivers avoid a potential accident.

Blind-Spot Detection and Back-Over Prevention Systems
      Careless drivers aren’t the only ones who can accidentally back over something—or someone—important. With blind-spot detection and back-over prevention systems, however, the car is safer than ever. This technology is designed to prevent accidents when the car is moving backwards, notifying drivers any time there’s something in their blind spot.

Fatigue Warning Systems
      Driver fatigue warning systems know when a driver is getting too tired to continue driving. They monitor driving behavior and other indicators to quickly and effectively let the driver know that they should not continue driving any longer, thus getting drivers off the road if they’re too tired to be there safely.

Forward Collision Warning with Auto Brake
      Many aging Americans struggle with depth perception issues that can make it difficult to tell when an object is coming too close. Others may allow their attention to drift for just a moment, not realizing that the car in front of them has slammed on their brakes. With forward collision warning, the car notifies the driver that the potential for a forward collision is coming. Even better, auto brake systems can automatically stop the car if a potential collision is detected.

Self-Driving Cars

       It won’t be long before self-driving cars hit the market, enabling older Americans to maintain their independence and reach their destination safely. This technology, while far from ready for testing in a regular market, will significantly advance independence while keeping the road safe for other drivers.

      Adults under 50 have been the target group for automobile advertisers for a long time. When it comes to buying new vehicles, however, older consumers are the best bet for many contemporary marketers. The emphasis on the boomer demographic is supported by the expected continuation of the greying of the population and the increase in the number of older licensed drivers. These new technologies, however, will help make traveling by car safer than it has ever been before, especially for older drivers who may need additional assistance behind the wheel.