Self-driving cars used to be inventions of fantasy writers and science fiction films. They’re now a very tangible reality. Though years from availability for purchase, Google offers test drives, and other manufacturers are furiously working to put themselves into the self-driving car market. These companies, such as Toyota, Ford Motor Co., and the engineers at Google, are developing this technology with a particular group in mind: the aging generation of baby boomers. Self-driving cars offer more than convenience; for someone unable to drive, they offer autonomy and safety.
There is a higher instance of fatal motor vehicle accidents in those aged 75 and older. This is due to a number of factors—frailty of bones, susceptibility to infection after injury, and decreased safe-driving skills. The safety of older loved ones could increase dramatically if they are in the hands of technology striving to remediate the danger of human error in driving.
With age comes an increased dependence on family members and friends. Self-driving cars have the potential to make a trip to the doctor, grocery store, or friend’s home less of a process, and revert seniors back to independent living. Despite these perks, it is quite possible that baby boomers won’t want to buy self-driving cars, even if it gives them the freedom they gave up with their car keys. Surveys conducted by M.I.T.’s Agelab indicate those aged 70 and up just can’t quite give up the control of actual holding the wheel. However, younger potential buyers are less likely to have such hesitations.
Self-driving vehicles are being designed with elderly consumers in mind; engineers even go as far as using vision-impairing goggles and motor-skill inhibiting gloves when testing their technology. The software of self-driving cars will include the ability to differentiate between various destinations, such as different doctors for a variety of medical appointments. Voice recognition technology allows consumers to tell their car their desired destination. The car itself notifies the passengers of planned maneuvers; changing lanes, turning left or right, acceleration and deceleration.
But the real question is: Will self-driving cars eliminate the back-seat driver? Let’s hope so! While we’re all waiting to find out, don’t hesitate to call us to discuss your auto insurance needs, especially if you have a new driver in the family, or a new car. We’re always here to help! 714-838-1911
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