Do older drivers increase risk due to complex in-car technology?

Apr 20, 2021 | Car Accidents

For many years, drivers have been speculating about the possible risks caused by elderly drivers. Due to delayed reflexes and responses, diminished vision and other causes, the theory is that older people are more likely to cause accidents on the roads.

This line of speculation is heightened in recent years by the rapid advancements to in-vehicle technology. Driver assistance is one of many new technologies that younger people are more comfortable with compared to older drivers. But unlike other technologies available today, driver assistance tech presents particular risk due to the dangers inherent in operating motor vehicles.

Why would this technology be dangerous?

In addition to in-vehicle technology being a tremendous distraction for people who are not used to it, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) present other dangers. When drivers are unfamiliar with this technology, they can misread the data the tech is giving them. This can lead to doing exactly the opposite of what they should be doing behind the wheel. Further, drivers can often panic when the technology in their cars start giving them signals they don’t understand, which can lead to nervous, dangerous driving.

What do the statistics tell us?

According to an independent study by AAA, the numbers are not all good for elderly drivers in the twenty first century:

  • In terms of awareness of driving technology, the study found that 19.6 percent of elderly drivers reported having this tech in their cars, but a remarkable 44.2 percent of the cars actually possessed the tech. For some of the other ADAS, more drivers reported possessing this technology than the percentage of cars that actually had the tech.
  • In better news, many of the elderly drivers reported that they believed their in-vehicle safety technology made them safer drivers.
  • Nearly half of the drivers using this technology “figured it out themselves” rather than learning from a dealer or reading the owner’s manual. Many never learn to use the technology at all.

Some of these statistics are alarming, indeed. When more than half are either trying to figure out their ADAS technology themselves or not learning it at all, there is obviously increased danger.

What does this mean?

If you have been injured or someone you love has been killed by an elderly driver, and driving safety technology was involved, you could have more than a simple car accident case. It could be a dangerous products case against the designers or manufacturers of the technology. Further, the in-vehicle technology can provide good evidence on which to build a case.