They call it the “silver tsunami.”
This is the gigantic wave of aging baby boomers that will peak as the current demographic is entering the geriatric years. The population of individuals 70 years old and above will reach 53.7 million in 2030, according to the U.S. Census Bureau report.
Of course, this is an indicator that you have to expect more old drivers on the roads of the United States today and in the future years. Their population is simply building up, thanks to the improved access to medicines and hospital treatment. Interestingly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that these senior drivers have been travelling more distances. Their average mileage every year is increasing.
However, the institute also said that only a few individuals in their 70s have a license to drive. But then again, they are still keeping their licenses, which means, that sooner or later, they will take a massive chunk in the population of drivers in the United States.
It is a concern that everyone should be aware of. There should be a means on how we can protect these old drivers while they are behind the wheels.
“Helping seniors remain mobile with new technologies and a good car fit is important for the quality of life,” said Michael Green, a spokesperson of AAA. “Older Americans who have stopped driving are almost two times more likely to suffer from depression and nearly five times as likely to enter a long-term care facility compared to those who remain behind the wheel.”
This means that the cars that our grandparents should be driving are all equipped with the essential safety features. Here are some of those recommended vehicular technologies that can keep older drivers safe while they are driving.
- 360-degree camera system – This one gives drivers a total view of their surroundings, especially when they are driving. Many vehicles already have this kind of capability, so there’s no fret anymore which model and unit they should choose.
- Adaptive headlights – This sophisticated lighting system turns in the direction where the steering wheel is being turned. It helps drivers see better, especially during the night. Cars like the Hyundai Equus, Mazda 3, Volvo S60, and BMW 3 Series have this feature already.
- Automatic crash notifications – They are integrated into the telematics system of vehicles, such as the OnStar for Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Buick; 911 Assist for Ford cars; and the Safety Connect for most Toyota vehicles. A telematics system has other benefits, too. If an old driver got lost or disoriented while driving, pressing a button to this system will link them to a live individual who can help them navigate.
- Automatic high beams – Another safety feature that senior drivers can benefit from is an automatic high beam. The latter automatically adjusts between high and low illumination for enhanced evening visibility. While not all cars have them, some units from Volvo and Toyota have them.
- Blindspot warning – It is a technology that signals that a particular vehicle joining your lane is in your blind spot. It is a system that is already a standard feature for the latest car units. Mazda 3 is one of the notable car models that have this capability. The blind spot assistance enables corrective action to a driver so that he or she can avoid collisions. It is an essential feature to old drivers, as their responsiveness and senses have been deteriorated by age.
- Emergency autonomous braking – In 2015, ten automakers in the United States have committed that this feature will be added to their passenger vehicles, according to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHTSA). This technology is crucial in preventing fatal road accidents. A vehicle that is rigged with this technology will automatically slow down or stop if it detects that there’s a frontal collision.
“Automatic emergency braking is a core safety system that no one should be ignoring,” Bryan Reimer of the MIT’s AgeLab said. “In the case of older adults, where physical fragility becomes an increasing issue with age, the crash-reduction potential of AEB can be the difference between life and death.”
This piece of technology is found in various car models already. But most of the time, they are available in high-end units only. Such models are the Hyundai Sonata, Subaru WRX, Volvo S60, Chevrolet Volt, Chrysler 200, and Buick Encore. The Top Safety Pick+ of IIHS includes car models that have this particular capability.