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Driverless cars could help seniors stay on the road, experts suggest

October 2, 2012

Driving plays a key role in helping seniors maintaining an independent lifestyle, but sometimes decreasing vision or medical conditions throws a wrench in their plans. However, recent technological advances have some older adults hopeful that they may never have to give up the keys, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Self-driving cars, something seemingly out of a science fiction movie, have been approved for road use in Florida, Nevada and California, three states which have become popular retirement hubs over the years. Google has been leading the charge, but auto manufacturers have also been developing some projects of their own.

Though having driverless cars become common the road, the technology may help seniors stay on the road longer than they would otherwise. The innovative vehicles are pioneering collision avoidance technology and cameras that help motorists back up and check their blind spots, two things which often pose challenges to older adults behind the wheel.

A recent study from The Hartford and MIT's AgeLab revealed what some of the biggest concerns are for seniors when they're on the road. Night driving was the most significant worry among older adults, with 24 percent of respondents citing it as an obstacle in safe driving. Thirteen percent said distractions such as phone calls were their biggest challenges while 12 percent said changing lanes on the highway.

Driving safely may become one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle for seniors in the coming years. By 2030, experts estimate approximately 57 million people on the road will be over the age of 65. Some lawmakers have already gone to lengths to address the issue, with 30 states and Washington, D.C., having rules in place aimed at assessing older drivers' abilities.