Driver Assist Helps Seniors Drive Safe

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Senior couple driving convertible car at sunrise
If we wake up in the morning and do everything well without getting involved in any of life's accidents or pitfalls, we are awarded with life's most precious gift... we get older. Not only are we all getting older, but the U.S. population is crossing some major benchmarks. In 2018 the CDC reported that there were 45 million drivers who were aged 65 or over. That was a 60 percent increase over the year 2000. In 2030, the youngest Baby Boomer will be over 65 and by 2034 there will be more senior citizens than children in America.
The one thing we know about our senior drivers is the last thing they want to do is give up their car keys. Think about it. The ability to drive, to be mobile, to be independent, makes all the difference when age and infirmity begins to limit your ability to function in the world. Interestingly, today's Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) are helping seniors to drive safely longer.

Driver Assist Tech and Seniors

The AAA did an in-depth study of how older drivers (65-79) use and learn about ADAS. According to the report, 

"Automotive technologies and advanced driver assistance systems have the potential to help older drivers become more confident behind the wheel and extend their safe mobility." However, these technologies vary widely in complexity and scope, and questions remain about drivers' perceptions and how they learn to use these systems." 

The study found that 57.2 percent of the nearly 3,000 participants had at least one form of ADAS in their vehicles and on average they had at least two forms of driver assist technology at their disposal. The majority used integrated Bluetooth, backup/parking assist and navigation assistance. A majority (70 percent) said that these technologies make them a safer driver.
When asked how they learn the functionality of driver assist tech:
  • 48.9% said they just "figure it out themselves."
  • 19.8% said they learned about ADAS through their dealership.
  • 11.8% figured it out by reading the owner's manual.
  • 13.2% sadly, said they never learned how to use the technology.
The six most common forms of ADAS this study group was most familiar with include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, integrated Bluetooth, navigation assistance, semi-autonomous park assist, and voice control. Though the majority also use their vehicle's backup cameras. The study reports that as the income of seniors increase, so do the number of ADAS technologies in their cars.

Today, over 90 percent of all new vehicles have some form of ADAS and almost all of these tech wonders can help older drivers drive longer and safer on our roads. 

What do Driver Assist features do?
As we age, our driving abilities change. We may have decreased vision, impaired hearing, and slowed motor reflexes. That's where driver assist technology can help. One of the reasons for confusion around ADAS is that every auto manufacturer has surrounded these technologies with complex and sometimes bewildering proprietary names. The absence of consistent naming conventions makes it difficult for older consumers to know what features a specific vehicle has and how they work. Similarly named tech might do completely different things. For instance, one car will just warn you about an impending collision while another will actually apply the brakes. 

With that in mind, here is a list of current technologies that you'll find being used in most vehicles today. We'll also show you the list of names for these systems:

What to do if you don't have ADAS?

While driver assist technology is miraculous, what do you do if you are an older driver who owns a vehicle that is too old to include any ADAS? 

Well, luckily, there are aftermarket products that are easy to install on your car that can help keep you on the road for many happy miles to come - below are a few.
Voxx LDWS100 is a forward collision and lane departure warning system that recognizes traffic lane markings and other vehicles and warns the driver with an audible tone. The system allows drivers to set the level of warning, frequency, and even volume of the alert tones to personalize the system.
Brandmotion's ADAS-1000 is an all-in-one system that includes forward-motion warning and lane departure warning, enabled by a camera mounted on the front of the vehicle. It also includes video recording, even when you are away from the vehicle.
Rostra RearSight offers an automatic Rear View Backup Camera System if your car doesn't have a backup camera. This includes a camera mounted to the rear of the vehicle as well as a rearview mirror that allows drivers to see what's behind them when backing up.
Let Lithia Help
Need help in learning about your vehicle's driver assist features? Let Lithia Motors help. Our personal transportation experts are on hand to walk you through how to maneuver the world of ADAS. Find the Lithia dealer near you here.