5 ways technology is helping seniors stay on the road longer

Cars are heavily ingrained in American culture, symbolizing mobility and independence for many of us. Even those above the age of 65 account for some 40 million licensed drivers in the country. However, there are very real risks involved when it comes to seniors getting behind the wheel, and too many retire from driving due to fear of getting into accidents. 

Fortunately, the future of automated driving is here. We haven’t quite reached the peak of flying cars and ultra-fast vehicles just yet, but advancements in technology are already enhancing our roads and travels — especially for our senior drivers.

Previously here on the Oscar Senior Blog, we discussed how technology can actually help the elderly feel more integrated with the modern world. Utilizing the latest vehicular innovations can be a way to do so. Here are a few tools that can help senior drivers stay on the road longer.

1. Fitness-to-Drive Screening Tool

Because older adults are prone to illnesses such as dementia and visual or hearing impairments, these can immediately discourage them from even touching the wheel. However, having a medical condition shouldn’t automatically equate to being unfit to drive. A fitness-to-drive screening tool by the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity, and Participation can assess if an elderly person is capable of getting behind the wheel.

New York Times shares that this online tool uses a rating system that analyzes a total of 54 driving skills that will determine if the driver is at-risk, routine, or accomplished.

Before the senior give up on driving "just" because he has dementia, tell him about the Fitness-to-Drive Screening Tool.

2. Automatic Emergency Braking

Every second is crucial when it comes to avoiding car accidents. They often happen in the blink of an eye and when you least expect it. Before you know it, your car is spinning out of control. But with Automatic Emergency Braking, drivers of all ages can sense and avoid potential collisions. In the event that you are unable to react on time, Automatic Emergency Braking systems will activate its emergency halt. This is useful for senior citizens, because their reflexes are likely not as sharp as they used to be.

Data from Consumer Reports reveals that this technology has decreased rear-end collisions by half.

3. Blind Spot Warning

The Bind Spot Warning tool can act as your second pair of eyes, able to detect and warn you of vehicles alongside your car that you may not always see. Systems like this will alert you when it’s unsafe to merge or change lanes, decreasing the chances of driving onto oncoming traffic — again, useful for the elderly who may have mild to moderate visual difficulties.

4. GPS Tracking

Another common problem among aging folk is their deteriorating memory. Conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s give them a tendency to become unfamiliar with places they might frequent everyday, or forget where they were going in the first place. This can be extremely dangerous, which is why GPS Tracking systems are in place to allow seniors to be independent while still keeping safe. These work to send alerts to loved ones in the event that they start speeding, brake abruptly, or get into accidents.

In fact, this technology has come to be used in an array of different situations, such as in truck driving. Truck drivers, whose average age is approximately 55, are now reaping the benefits of this technology, which Verizon Connect credits as a useful way to maintaining efficient operations while ensuring each driver is safe.

This is especially crucial as truck drivers not only contend with the challenges of aging and memory-related accidents, they also are at higher risks of fatigue-related mishaps, too. Therefore, GPS Tracking technology acts as a watchful eye that allows them to be safe at all times.

5. Self-Driving Cars

Alternatively, one can do without driving completely and leave it to self-driving cars. The Washington Post claims that autonomous driving has the potential to change seniors’ lives completely, opening doors for human mobility. Though they might be skeptical at the prospect of it at first, a new sense of freedom and independence is what awaits them — without room for human error.

Article specially written for OscarSenior.com
By: Lara Skye

Oscar Senior helps seniors stay in touch with their family, friends, and caregivers via video calls, photo sharing, and instant messages. Apart from communication features, seniors can browse the web or Facebook safely, check the news and weather, play games or access their favorite music. Thanks to Oscar Senior, the elderly people can age in place, stay independent and successfully deal with loneliness.