Car Tech Designed with Seniors in Mind

Supply and demand go hand in hand. When there’s a need, it is only natural that the market responds by creating an appropriate product. In this case, that means designing a car with seniors in mind.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are more than forty-five million drivers over the age of sixty-five. This is relevant information, as this number is a significant increase from the years previous. By 2030, it is estimated that there will be another significant increase as Baby Boomers grow older.

All of this means that more people than ever face the ever-growing fear that they will not be able to transport themselves safely at some point in their futures. The ability to drive places is integral for independent living – in some states more than others. Current solutions have proved not to be enough, so it is time to look towards auto manufacturers.

Enhancing Controls

One option that car manufacturers are considering is enhancing the controls already available to drivers. These options include access, visibility, and management. In other words, they’re working to make the cars more comfortable and approachable. While this will undoubtedly help, it is but one side of the solution.

Accident Prevention

These days, many car manufacturers have been working hard at developing collision prevention tech. This tech includes rear and side cameras, automatic crash notifications, blind spot warnings, adaptive headlights, and more. 

Taking it a step further are companies such as Nissan Murano, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo S60. Their models have an additional feature available to detect when a driver is becoming drowsy and prompt a warning. 

Injury Reduction

Sometimes it isn’t possible to avoid an accident, and that’s where the next round of research has been focused: reducing injuries. The University of Michigan and Wayne State University have been working on reducing injuries seniors receive during car accidents. These studies understand that older bones are more fragile and prone to further damage during a crash. The ultimate goal is to design a car that will help protect passengers as much as possible. 

Emergency Response

AAA makes driving safer for everyone, as they offer immediate response times for broken-down vehicles and accidents. Other companies have followed suit, making it easier to reach out for assistance when on the road.

Self-Driving Cars

While self-driving cars have yet to be perfected, there’s no doubt that they will help seniors once fully available to the public. Realistically, self-driving vehicles will make everyone safer in the long run; this is why companies have been pushing so hard to perfect the technology.

Radar Tech for Self-Driving Cars

The push to create a functional self-driving car has always been there – but the last decade has seen increased pressure. Drivers and manufacturers alike want to see the technology work.

Over the years, many different attempts have been made, with varying forms of technology backing the experiments. Until recently, the preferential sensor was LIDAR, but now RADAR is taking the industry by storm.

Given how dated the technology itself is, it might be hard to believe that RADAR is the new big technology on the self-driving platform. But this application is new – and it is giving manufacturers a reason to hope.

The Need for Self-Driving Cars

The past decade has brought about hundreds of different inventions to make driving safer – for everyone. Unfortunately, none of the current technology in place can counteract the distractable nature of the driver.

GHSA has compiled a list of statistics that proves pedestrian deaths via vehicle collisions have drastically increased during the pandemic. This is even though fewer people are driving than ever before. It is believed that many of these accidents were preventable. Following investigations, many drivers were found to be speeding, distracted, or under the influence.

In other words, the best way to create safe driving technology is by perfecting self-driving cars. 

LIDAR vs. RADAR

As mentioned before, up until recently, LIDAR was the preferred option for applied autonomy. LIDAR stands for Light Imaging Detection and Ranging, and it uses light pulses to map the surroundings.

Conversely, RADAR uses radio waves as a way of mapping surroundings. LIDAR had been preferred for its higher rate of accuracy. However, it has a few significant drawbacks. LIDAR isn’t as accurate during night hours, inclement weather, is expensive, and as early results have shown us: dealing with sudden obstacles on the road.

RADAR In Self-Driving Cars

RADAR first found its way into the automotive industry in the 1990s due to the variety of uses it provides. RADAR systems are tough, which is always a benefit for any automotive part, and they’re less expensive (compared to LIDAR).

The rising benefits of RADAR don’t stop there. RADAR systems can instantaneously measure the velocity of objects, which is critical for self-driving vehicles. Without this ability, it would be impossible to safely navigate a road full of other cars, bikes, and pedestrians.

RADAR also benefits from functioning during inclement weather and has less risk of damage should it be exposed to dirt. There is still a long way to go when it comes to creating the perfect self-driving vehicle, but RADAR is bringing us one step closer. 

Are Smarter Cars Making Drivers Worse?

Who doesn’t love the idea of a smart car? They’re comfortable, convenient, and make our lives easier. Yet there’s a growing concern that the latest generation of cars may just be training people to be worse drivers – and that’s dangerous.

Who can forget the headlines from 2020, when a Tesla user crashed their car because they were too busy watching a movie. While this may be a stand-out example, it does raise a very valid concern. 

The Intention Behind Smart Cars

Smart cars are designed for comfort, yes, but they are also designed for safety. That’s their primary goal. The whole push for self-driving vehicles has less to do with lazy drivers and more to do with eliminating human error.

According to studies, more than ninety percent of car crashes were caused by drivers. In other words, they were caused by human error. Naturally, this explains why car and insurance companies alike would be interested in developing safer tech.

How This Concept Can Backfire

So, given the altruistic intent behind smart cars, how is it possible that the idea is backfiring? It’s simple – people are getting distracted. We are not yet at a point where self-driving cars are easily accessible (or necessarily legal), and that means the current tech out there can create just as much of a distraction as anything.

People get distracted by all of the devices in their cars. They play with the radio, their phone, and now the new shiny tech that comes along for the ride. According to a study run by State Farm, these distractions are making us worse drivers.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that certain drivers rely too much on safety technology. Adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist tools are being abused so that people can multitask within the car. Until we hit a point where self-driving cars are a given – this is extremely dangerous. The result is a road full of dangerously distracted drivers. Even if these drivers are in the minority, plenty of drivers are still too distracted by their phones

The Solution

Like many problems in the automotive industry, the solution comes down to regulation. More and more states are outlawing cell phones in cars – and that is just the first step in the process. Regulating these distractions is unfortunately essential, but that’s not the only step.

The other part of this process is education. Drivers need to be made more aware of the risk they take when doing this – and what it can cost. The automotive industry can get involved in this process by developing technology that discourages phone use and the like, much like the push towards seatbelts. 

Apps Making Driving Safer

Every day new technology is made for the express purpose of making people safer. This is especially true in the car industry, where safety is paramount – and the definition is constantly shifting.

Most recently, a new trend has been popping up in the auto industry. There are now dozens of apps out there to help people drive more safely. These apps are great for teenagers and adults alike and are available on multiple platforms. 

SafeDrive

SafeDrive is the perfect app for anyone actively trying to limit their phone usage while driving. SafeDrive is an app that believes phones can be a dangerous distraction in the car and works to reward drivers for keeping their phones away when behind the wheel.

LifeSaver

While LifeSaver is targeted more towards teen drivers (or, more accurately, the parents of teen drivers), this is an app for anyone. LifeSaver combines GPS monitoring with a rewards system similar to that of SafeDrive. Parents can track their teens and help reward them for keeping their phones safely tucked away. 

DriveMode

DriveMode is very similar to the apps mentioned above in that it discourages distracted driving by reducing phone use. DriveMode silences call, alerts, and texts while driving. Additionally, it can send out auto-replies in the meantime, so there is no need to worry about a lack of response on the driver’s part.

Inrix

Inrix doubles as a safety and map app. It learns from users’ driving habits, creating individualized routes that help avoid traffic. The goal is to keep drivers focused on the road and not figure out how to get from A to B.

Mojo

Mojo is another monitoring app, but with a twist. Mojo monitors user driving statistics and rates them according to how safe their driving is. The app allows users to accumulate points, which eventually begin to earn gift cards as physical rewards.

iOnRoad

iOnRoad is an innovative new app that takes full advantage of today’s technology. It uses augmented reality to map out the other cars on the road and will send automatic alerts when your vehicle gets too close to another.

EverDrive

Are you feeling a bit more competitive about safe driving? EverDrive is the perfect app for that. EverDrive rates users on their safe driving by monitoring acceleration, braking, and speed. From there, it provides total scores, which can be shared with the neighborhood.