Older Drivers Seek High-Tech Safety Features in Greater Numbers

  • Desire for technology could ease adoption of driverless cars
  • Features boost driving confidence of those aged 50 or more

High-tech safety features have jumped to a high priority for older U.S. car-shoppers, who want to keep their freedom of mobility, a study released Tuesday reports.

Among Americans 50 and up who plan to shop for a car in the next two years, 76 percent said they will actively seek out high-tech safety features like blind-spot warning systems or smart headlights, according MIT’s AgeLab and The Hartford, a Connecticut-based insurance and investment company. That’s more than double the 32 percent of same-age drivers who bought a vehicle in the last year as more car shoppers become aware of advances in driver-assistance technology that are the building blocks of self-driving cars.

Three-quarters of these mature drivers think that having safety technologies in their car will help extend the amount of time they’ll be able to drive, according to the survey, which was conducted in March. The results suggest that people are becoming increasingly comfortable relying on the car’s internal systems at a time when autonomous driving faces regulatory hurdles and safety scrutiny.

The survey suggests “they associate advanced technologies with enhanced safety,” said Jodi Olshevski, a gerontologist and executive director of the Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence, a unit of The Hartford. “It is encouraging that a majority of mature drivers planning their next vehicle purchase will purposely seek out high-tech safety features.”

More than half of those surveyed would consider a self-driving car if it proved to be as safe as their own driving, while almost half said they would consider one if their health prevented them from driving. 

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