The Hartford/MIT Determine Which Driver Aids Are Best for Older Drivers

While today's cars can come equipped with a number of driving aids ranging from "simple" sonar sensors to help judge distances from obstacles, to those that actually park your car for you, for the most part, few have been able to put a quantifiable amount to how well they work. On top of that, most of the features have only been equipped on high-end luxury cars until the past couple of years. To compound the issue, this put many high-tech features out of reach for younger buyers, only allowing mostly older drivers to afford them.

Now, enter The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab. The financial services giant, partnering with the MIT group specifically charged with conducting research to improve the quality of life for older adults, were able to determine that drivers over the age of 50 are more likely than any other age group to buy vehicles containing those modern technologies. With that figure in mind, the two conducted a study into what technologies help advance these type of driver's abilities the most. When the results were compiled, the two listed their top 10 most effective features, which goes as follows:

  1. Smart Headlights
    Researchers found that headlights capable of adjusting the range and intensity of the headlamps not only reduce glare and improve night vision, but also spread light where normal headlamps can't when making turns.
  2. Emergency Response Systems
    Systems including and similar to GM's OnStar offer quick assistance to drivers at the push of a button. This allows a quick response in the event of a medical emergency, or if a driver simply needs directions. In addition, these systems can also alert operators in the event of a collision, which can save precious seconds when it comes to getting first responders to the scene.
  3. Reverse Monitoring Systems
    By using rear-view cameras and sonar sensors, these aids not only provide a wide angle view of what is behind the driver's car, but can also help drivers judge distances from obstacles and back up safely. Plus, the ability to see objects behind the vehicle through a monitor in the dashboard lets drivers face forward, providing a huge safety advantage for those with reduced flexibility.
  4. Blind Spot Warning Systems
    This helpful system warns drivers of objects lingering in blind spots, and can also be a helpful tool for those with a limited range of motion. Drivers receive an audible and visual alert should they be at risk of a potential collision while changing lanes or parking.
  5. Lane Departure Warning
    These systems take blind spot warning a step further by monitoring the vehicle's position on the road, not only providing a warning if the driver drifts out of their intended lane, but by also adjusting the vehicle's direction slightly to help keep the car where it belongs.
  6. Vehicle Stability Control
    Relying on multiple sensors that detect engine speed, throttle position, wheel speed, braking force, and vehicle yaw, these systems help automatically bring your vehicle back into its intended line of travel. They are particularly effective in situations where the driver underestimates the angle of a curve or experiences a momentary loss of control during poor weather.
  7. Assistive Parking Systems
    While this technology seemed next to impossible a few years ago, a number of vehicles today come equipped with systems that allow a car to park entirely by itself. This not only increases the number of places an elderly driver can park, but can also reduce driver stress as well.
  8. Voice Activated Systems
    These helpful systems allow drivers to access and control just about any feature available through the car's infotainment system. Depending on the car, this can include air conditioning, phone calls, music selections, and stereo volume. This allows drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road where they belong.
  9. Crash Mitigation Systems
    Also referred to as collision avoidance systems, these aids can detect when the vehicle is in danger of collision. If the system detects an impending collision, it can help minimize the impact by applying the brakes at maximum force – usually before the driver has time to react. By slowing the car, it can help reduce the likelihood of injury in a crash.
  10. Drowsy Driver AlertsThese systems monitor the degree to which a driver may or may not be paying attention. If the system detects the driver isn't at attention, it will provide feedback drivers can hear, and sometimes feel, to help them stay alert while on the road.

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