Seeing the different customers come through the dealership and purchase vehicles has really opened my eyes as to just how different people's needs are. What's "must have" for one person could be completely useless to another. Just look at all the people with smartphones who crave connectivity with their device while driving, and then on the flip side, people who own a bare minimum phone that has never seen an internet connection (I'm a firm believer that once you go smart, you can't go back!)
That being said, we're entering an era where everyone is absorbing technology, regardless of whether they're a teenager, in their 30's, or even an AARP member. But when it comes to in-car tech, what do older drivers find useful?
To find out, Hartford Insurance teamed up with MIT's AgeLab to come up with a list of technologies that benefit people over the age of 50. Considering that the number of mature drivers dwarfs the number of drivers under 20 (about roughly 88.7 million, compared to 9.5) it's pretty important to know what amenities they want in a car. The team at Hartford surveyed around 900 older drivers nationwide to find out exactly what they desired in their cars.
Here are the top 10 features that older drivers find most useful:
#10. Drowsy driver alerts:
Tired driving is just as bad, if not worse than drunk driving. Having monitors in place to check for signs of drowsiness is a definite safety need, especially when you don't have caffeine available. They work by either monitoring driver eye movement with a built-in camera, or by analyzing steering inputs to measure how reactive the driver is. If drowsiness is detected, the system gives an audible alert or vibrates the steering wheel to warn the driver.
#9. Crash mitigation systems:
These systems use radar technology to predict when a crash is imminent, and protect the driver by doing things such as tightening the seat belts and recharging the brakes. It's offered in select Prius models.
#8. Voice activated systems:
Many cars are equipped with voiced activated systems today, where you can tell your car to make a phone call, pull up directions to the nearest restaurant serving fish tacos, or control the temperature of the vehicle. In newer models of the Camry and other Toyota vehicles, this system is known as Entune.
#7. Parking assistance:
For those who hate to parallel park, this feature helps the driver get into those tight spaces that sometimes cause headaches because they take several tries to get into. On the Prius, it is known as Intelligent Parking Assist.
#6. Electronic stability control:
Available on most newer vehicles and required by all vehicles 2012 or newer by the Department of Transportation, ESC improves a vehicle's stability by helping to reduce loss of traction when a problem with steering control is detected.
#5. Lane departure warning:
This technology alerts the driver by beeping or vibrating the steering wheel when they start to veer out of a lane and aren't using a turn signal to notify other drivers.
#4. Blind spot monitoring:
The 2013 Toyota Sienna is among the vehicles that offer blind spot monitoring, which equips the vehicle with a sensor that can detect when other cars are in the blind spot, and alert the driver before he/she changes lanes while driving.
#3. Reverse monitoring systems:
Similar to the blind spot monitor, this system works when the car is in reverse, to help alert the driver when he/she is about to collide into an object.
#2. Emergency response systems:
Get into a bad accident? Your car can automatically notify a special team of people that will pinpoint your location and get an emergency team out your way to help. I like to think of it as the "I've fallen and I can't get up" rescue tool for you and your car.
#1. Smart headlights:
Your vision generally doesn't get better as you age, and when driving, it just so happens to be the most important aspect to safety. With smart headlights, the car automatically changes from low beam to high beam lights, depending on traffic and glare. For older drivers, it's one less thing to worry about when behind the wheel, and considered to be the most important feature by the Hartford study.
What do you think about the study? Were any features that you think are important missing?