Posts tagged with "Elderly drivers"

‘Smart cars’ are too ‘demanding and confusing’ for older drivers

August 2, 2019

“It was a comedy of errors,” said a 71-year-old participant in a recent study conducted by the University of Utah on behalf of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety—during which, among other things, he was asked to program car’s infotainment system.

The new AAA car safety study suggests that tech-laden “smart” cars are too distracting, which can undermine efforts to keep roadways safe, especially when those getting behind the wheel are aged 55 and over, NBC News reports.

Indeed, the researchers say that all of the bells and whistles on new cars may be perceived as demanding and confusing by older drivers.

“The technology we’re putting in cars today [is] unsafe for all of us to use, especially for older adults,” said Jake Nelson, AAA Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research. “Our advice to consumers is that just because technology is built into your car doesn’t mean that it’s safe to do those things.”

In the study, drivers were divided into two groups— a younger group (ages 21 to 36) and an older group (ages 55 to 75). Each participant was asked to drive a 2018 car equipped with a number of “smart” features, including navigation screens and voice activation controls.

Among the tasks drivers were asked to complete: sending a text message, programming music, programming a navigation system, and placing a call.

Overall, the study found, older drivers experienced higher levels of cognitive and visual demand, compared to younger drivers. These differences were even more pronounced for older drivers when completing any in-vehicle information system task, or IVIS. But the study found that older and younger drivers both found some tech features challenging and time-consuming.

“Given the demands associated with IVIS tasks,” the study concluded, “drivers of all ages should use these infotainment technologies only for legitimate emergencies or urgent, driving-related purposes.”

Paul Brown, a 71-year-old retired attorney who resides in Salt Lake City, is one of the drivers who took part in the study. “I don’t need something that is going to do everything for me and distract me while I’m driving,” Brown said. “Quite frankly, when I was driving, I found myself feeling as if I was driving dangerously because of all of those distractions.”

Brown said he found the large display screen situated to the right of the steering wheel in the cars he drove for the study especially distracting.

“If I was driving that kind of car, I would probably put a napkin or blanket or something over that screen so that I could concentrate on driving the car,” Brown said, adding that he prefers older, simpler cars.

Nelson said that making cars more user-friendly for older drivers ultimately makes cars safer for everyone. “If we can design a system to make it so that utilizing a car’s features is no more distracting than tuning your radio, if we can achieve that for the older adult driver, we can all benefit from that,” Nelson said.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Half of Americans say elderly drivers should take a road test annually

July 23, 2018

Fully 52% of U.S. adults are calling for annual testing of elderly drivers, based on findings of a poll fielded by Rasmussen Reports and released on June 18. Support is building for road testing of aging drivers following a May 24 accident in New Jersey in which a fifth grader and a teacher were killed after a 77-year-old school bus driver missed an exit on a road—and collided with a dump truck while attempting a U-turn.

The survey of 1,000 Americans nationwide determined that 38% think that testing should begin at age 70; while 27% believe it should begin at age 75; and 23% would wait until 80. Seven percent (7%) think the testing should start at age 85 or older.

Two-thirds of Americans say they drive a car every day or nearly every day. Sixteen percent (16%) said in 2017 that they were driving more now than they were a year earlier, while 22% were driving less.

The older the adult, the less likely they are to favor annual retests for a driver’s license after a certain age. But even among those who do support it, the older the adult, the longer they think the tests should wait.

Men and women are equally as likely to support re-testing of older drivers,—but more women (41%) than men (34%) think those tests should start at age 70. Men are more closely divided over whether they should start at 70, 75, or 80.

White adults are stronger supporters of annual retests for elderly drivers than blacks and other minorities are. But among those who do support retests, black and minority adults are more likely than whites to think those tests should start at age 70.

Adults with children at home are much stronger advocates of testing than those without children and are more likely to say those tests should start at age 70.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Americans say they have been involved in a car accident while driving.

Research contact: @Rasmussen_Poll