Longer Behind the Wheel: How Car Tech and Safety Features Help Seniors Keep Driving

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You can say it with relief or you can say it with regret, but it is something we shall all say more than once: “I’m too old for this.” Base-jumping, marathon-running, boardroom battles; for all but a very determined few, each has its expiry date. One day that we all dread is the day when we think we might be too old to drive. Fortunately, modern technology, along with modern medicine and the baby-boomer mindset, is helping to push that day further into the future.

Technology the Driver’s Friend

A lot of older drivers think technology makes cars and driving more complicated but, generally, the opposite is true. Modern systems are designed to do a lot of the routine thinking for you, and leave you to concentrate on the business of driving. While totally driverless cars are some way in the future, manufacturers are already making cars that are much safer to drive and some, such as Hyundai, are including many advanced safety features as standard.

Visibility

Two things affect our vision as we get older. Our eyes respond slower to light conditions, and we lose the flexibility of neck and shoulders to be able to look behind us.

Smart headlights adapt to the changing environment. They adjust the angle of the lights and their intensity so that they always provide the best illumination of the road and the most consideration for other road users.

Cameras can be fitted all around the car. The rear-view camera is particularly useful for reversing, while side and front cameras give the impression on the screen of an aerial view of the car and everything in its vicinity.

Alertness

Older people can find a quick snooze very appealing, but not while they are driving.

A drowsy driver alert system will recognize the signs that you might be close to dozing off and will use a combination of light, sound, and vibrations to wake you up sharply.

Those long motorway stretches can make it hard to keep your focus. Lane departure warning/assist systems will detect from cameras or vibration sensors if you are drifting across a lane without indicating and will warn you or even steer the car gently back again.

Reactions

It is inevitable that reaction times will get slower with age.

Collision warning and mitigation systems register the presence of slow-moving or stationary objects ahead and will apply the brakes automatically if you do not.

Road layouts are getting better, but you still come across confusing ones where you can get flustered to find yourself in the wrong lane. Modern GPS systems can tell you in plenty of time which lane you need to be in for the direction that you want to take.

A Bright Future

We may look forward to a time when cars will do all the work for us and we can doze or read as we are delivered to our destination. Meanwhile, the technology to help us drive safely into our golden years is well in place and getting better all the time.

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