Posted on 18 Sep 2012 by Neilson
Smart headlights, emergency response systems and reverse monitoring features rank highest in car technologies that benefit mature drivers according to The Hartford and MIT AgeLab's Top Technologies for Mature Drivers Research.
Since drivers over the age of 50 are more likely than any other age group to purchase the types of vehicles that contain modern technologies¹, we set out to identify the top ten features that mature drivers should consider," said Jodi Olshevski, gerontologist at The Hartford. "While older drivers as a group are relatively safe, these technologies can help to enhance their abilities and promote safe driving for a lifetime."
Building upon more than a decade of research on older driver safety, The Hartford and MIT AgeLab worked with a panel of leading experts in driving, aging and technology to conduct an in-depth study that involved the review of 25 new technologies and identification of the top ten that can benefit mature drivers. The features that rank the highest include*:
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
"Technological advancements in the automotive industry are happening at a rapid rate," said Joseph F. Coughlin, PhD, Director, MIT AgeLab. "As more and more of these features are incorporated into vehicles, we believe that it's important for drivers to be knowledgeable of and use those technologies that can enhance safe driving capacity, comfort, and confidence."
The Hartford and MIT AgeLab suggest a two-step action plan to empower drivers to understand and best utilize their vehicle's safety features:
1. Match The Hartford's top technologies list (www.thehartford.com/lifetime) with your vehicle manual to understand what your vehicle is equipped with and how the features work.
2. If you are choosing a new car or need assistance with your current vehicle, work with a trusted dealer who can explain the benefits and uses of the various technologies available.
In addition, there are three steps that drivers should consider for their driving wellness:
1. Be a healthy driver - get regular physicals and annual eye exams, consider the side effects of medications, and exercise regularly.
2. Keep learning - take a driver safety course such as the one offered through AARP Driver Safety.
3. Adjust to changes in driving skills - be aware of normal age-related changes and make appropriate adjustments to driving.
The Hartford and MIT AgeLab identified a list of experts who did not work directly for an auto company, manufacturer or supplier, but were professionals who have expertise with older drivers, auto technologies and/or human factors. The panel of seven experts was asked to complete questionnaires in order to identify the top ten technologies with benefits for older drivers, and the advantages and disadvantages to each.
About The Hartford
The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (NYSE: HIG) is a leading provider of insurance and wealth management services for millions of consumers and businesses worldwide. The Hartford is consistently recognized for its superior service, its sustainability efforts and as one of the world's most ethical companies. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at www.thehartford.com. Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheHartford. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TheHartford.
About MIT AgeLab
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab is a global research program based within MIT's Engineering Systems Division and Center for Transportation & Logistics. The AgeLab conducts research on technology, behavior and innovation to improve the quality of life of older adults and those who care for them. More about AgeLab's research in transportation, health and wellness, and longevity planning is available at http://agelab.mit.edu.