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Keeping Older Drivers Behind the Wheel

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the my-dad-should-just-not-drive-ever dept.

Transportation 260

Hugh Pickens writes "A new study shows the key role technology can play in extending the age at which people can drive safely and highlights the important psychological role that driving plays in older people's lives in contributing to feelings of independence and freedom and maintaining their quality of life. The study identified ideas for in-car information systems to help compensate for the reduction in reaction time that affects many older drivers. Specific recommendations included a head-up display on the windshield that displays road sign information based on GPS position so the driver doesn't have to keep watching the road side for information and a system to provide the driver with audible feedback on their current speed so the driver doesn't have to look at the dashboard so often. 'Our research highlights issues that have been overlooked by car designers and those advising older people on lifestyles,' says Dr Charles Musselwhite, who led the study. 'The current emphasis on developing technologies which take over part of the driving task may actually end up deterring older drivers. By contrast, better in-car information systems could help them drive safely and ensure they want to keep driving.'"

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Please no! (5, Interesting)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088397)

FTFA:

Specific ideas generated include:
A system that unobtrusively displays road sign information through a head-up display on the windscreen. This is a see-through display that shows information without impeding the user's view. Harnessing Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, this would track a car's position and identify approaching signs. Exactly the same information contained in the signs would then appear on the windscreen at the right moment. The driver would therefore not have to keep scouring the road side for information.
A system providing the driver with audible feedback on their current speed, again harnessing GPS technology. For example, one short, non-distracting bleep could indicate the car is approaching the local speed limit; a longer bleep could indicate the speed limit has been reached. The driver would therefore not have to look at the dashboard so often.
The systems have the potential to minimise the amount of time drivers divert their attention from the road ahead, cutting the chance of an accident.

You kow, I just don't see how this will help much with people who have severely reduced reaction times/cognitive abilities in dealing with traffic.
My mom uses the sweet public transit deals that exist exclusively for seniors. We need to have those everywhere, they work great. They pick her up right at her door with a handicapped-style van with a lift, and she goes wherever she wants. Her church, her local senior center, and her medical clinic all have similar setups which she also uses. There's even a similar deal that takes her the whole 300 miles to Atlantic City when she's in the mood. Costs her way less than keeping a car, and it's a lot safer for her, as well as for the rest of us. I think it's a far better solution than encouraging her to drive, which she really cannot competently do. Until real available cars can reliably drive themselves , I say please, keep the seniors off the roads for everyone's safety. Besides, we seriously need to reduce the number of drivers on the road, not find new ways to let everyone drive!
All this just strikes me as something sponsored by the auto industry in the hopes of opening "new" markets.

Re:Please no! (4, Insightful)

gerf (532474) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088467)

I agree. While neat, these systems are just more information for old people to ignore, or worse, be distracted by.

Re:Please no! (5, Funny)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088539)

Exactly. How can a person who ignores their turn signal indicator for 30 miles be expected to look through a transparent heads-up display and see the road, or recognize which beep is beeping?

Re:Please no! (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088753)

...ignores their turn signal indicator for 30 miles

Give him a break, maybe Senator McCain is busy texting someone on his BlackBerry.

Re:Please no! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088819)

Give him a break, maybe Senator McCain is busy texting someone on his BlackBerry.

lmfao*!!!

(* i'm john mccain, and i approved this message.)

Re:Please no! (4, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088961)

I know you were at least partially joking, but I can tell you how that happens because it used to happen to me, when I was in my mid 50s: my hearing had deteriorated to the point that I often didn't hear the turn signal clicking if I had other things on my mind, so it would, in true Energizer Bunny fashion, keep going and going and going. I finally realized that I had a hearing issue and got hearing aids and it doesn't happen any more. Hearing loss is often gradual, and few people notice it until it's gotten fairly bad, so that elderly driver may simply not realize that they can't quite hear as well as they think they do.

Re:Please no! (3, Informative)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089093)

That, sadly will happen to all of you... I mean us... ;-)

But it will also happen to eyesight, reaction time, ability to accurately gauge/apply brake and/or throttle pressure, etc.

Warning systems are not adequate to address these issue. I, for one, when I get to that point, will simply sell my car and turn in my license for a State Issued ID. Sounds unbelievable, I know... but my grandmother did something much similar one day with no one prompting her to - and she still drove better than many younger drivers out there... just not good enough by her own judgement I guess.

Having a brother who is an EMT, and me having regularly driven everything from motorcyles to small trucks to construction equipment to starships [startreknewvoyages.com] , I've gained more than sufficient respect for what damage I can do behind the wheel if I dont take such steps as I get older.

Re:Please no! (1)

gerf (532474) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089323)

I wasn't joking. My grandmother (RIP) once said, "Kids shouldn't ride bikes while the sun's going down. They know old people can't see them!"

Re:Please no! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088601)

"The driver would therefore not have to keep scouring the road side for information."

Ugh. When I learned to drive, the booklet specifically said you're supposed to have an idea of what's all around your car that's at most 5 or 6 seconds old -- that means right & left shoulder checks to monitor the blind spots, etc.

Scouring the road side is part of safe driving -- for this system to be as safe as that, you'd need to affix GPS transponders to ever kid, deer, dog, soccer ball, and car so that warnings about hazards moving in from the side could also be displayed on the HUD. There would be so much information in the same visual space that it'd be a complete jumble.

Re:Please no! (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088639)

I thought the reason old people drove such big cars is so they could drive in a straight line indefinitely without having to be bothered by such minor inconveniences as road debris, stop signs, small dogs, children, etc.

Re:Please no! (3, Insightful)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089375)

Or airplanes! [youtube.com]

Re:Please no! (2, Insightful)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088755)

Scouring the road side is part of safe driving

Yes, but not all roadside information is relevant to your safety... If you do any driving in unfamiliar, cluttered city areas (especially at night), looking for road signs and addresses can be extremely distracting.

Granted, people have routines; Most seniors will probably travel in familiar territory most of the time... but for those times when older people (hell, anyone) are looking for a street with a tiny sign in the opposing lane or looking for a friend's house in the dark for the first time, cues from a GPS can be a huge increase to safety by keeping your eyes on the things you should be looking for... like vehicles and pedestrians.

Re:Please no! (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089109)

Scouring the road side is part of safe driving -- for this system to be as safe as that, you'd need to affix GPS transponders to ever kid, deer, dog, soccer ball, and car

Dont worry, our government is working on just that...

(Am I joking? Crazy? Serious? Correct? Or all of the above? ...I'll let you know as soon as I figure out the answer to that myself)

Re:Please no! (2, Interesting)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088799)

I say please, keep the seniors off the roads for everyone's safety. Besides, we seriously need to reduce the number of drivers on the road, not find new ways to let everyone drive!

Statistically the seniors are better than young teenage drivers, so should we extend the driving deals to kids?

Honestly enough, my dream would be for an automated travel system that addresses 90-99% of everybody's needs. If they have special handicaps or limited mobility, live in a condo with a station in the condo.

Get away from the car as being a necessary option.

Second - while your mom, living in Atlantic City, has all sort of options, my grandparents, living in Sebring, FL, don't have as many, and I'd have even less where I live. So there is some call for this sort of stuff.

Third - we need better options going into the future. People are living longer, we're having fewer children, so in the coming years we're going to have a far higher proportion of older people - will we be able to keep the older, relatively manpower wasteful assistance services going under such demand at a still reasonable cost?

Re:Please no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088903)

OP says the mom lives 300 miles from AC. Also in reference to the facilities, "we need to have that everywhere".

Reading comprehension -- try it!

Re:Please no! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25089231)

Honestly enough, my dream would be for an automated travel system that addresses 90-99% of everybody's needs. If they have special handicaps or limited mobility, live in a condo with a station in the condo.

Unimodel's SkyTran system sounds almost ideal to me. It is a system of small maglev "cars" suspeded under specially mode inductrack. The individual units are small lightweight 2 seaters. You enter the system on small steal platforms found once every city block or so, and just anncounce your desired destination. Your vehicle merges onto the main grid, and zips along at up to 100mph, obviously slowing to turn corners (which would be needed only once or twice in most cases) or stopping.

The designers have done a thorough job of imagining virtually every eventuallity, including what happens if a pod breaks down, and what happens if one breaks down semi-catastrophically, somehow welding itself to the track. (That segment of track is not used, all vehicles route around, those on that segment behind it, but past the last turn would be run in reverse to the last turn, etc.) And those are just a small number of the eventualities I personally asked the developers about. The system as a whole is dependent on a centralized computer system for a few purposes, such as ensuring empty cars are always available at each station, but is not essential to the operation of the individual cars, which use independent systems for safety and reliability reasons. The centralized system can provide travic monitoring data to the individual cars to allow them to avoid conjestion in the few places it occurs. However, conjestion would be rare, due to the reasonably tight spacing between cars used by the system.

Everything about the system was designed to be cost effective. The track is mounted on standard utility poles (hardwoods or metals required for weight reasons, but both are common), the platforms are simple steel constructs, unmanned. The costs per mile of system setup are far, far, less than a light rail system, despite Skytran being a Maglev system. IIRC, to set up an entire city's worth of track and stations would be comparable in cost to a significant city-wide light rail city (above-ground subway system), but ongoing costs of maintaining the system is far less, as neither the vehicles nor the stations need to be manned. Overall, it sounds near ideal, although the designers might have made some calulation errors that would be a real issue.

Re:Please no! (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089285)

That's because teenage drivers are all learners.

Re:Please no! (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089403)

my dream would be for an automated travel system that addresses 90-99% of everybody's needs

My dream is for every single office job on the planet to convert to telecommuting. Bye bye rush hour, bye bye pretentious volvo-driving she-devils and their daily fender-benders.

Please no! Not the AARP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088829)

"All this just strikes me as something sponsored by the auto industry in the hopes of opening "new" markets."

Slashdot! Slashdot. In your zeal to spear one big organization, you completely missed another.

Re:Please no! (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088911)

Reaction time isn't the only factor that can make you a good driver or not. It isn't even the most important factor.
If it was then we would be letting kids 8 years old to drive cars. As their reaction time is better then even someone in their 20s or 30s. But it more then that a good driver has the ability to use the information of the surrounding and keep the car in a situation were you don't need a fast reaction time to adjust to the situation. It is about seeing that guy in the intersection and knowing to slow down as he will illegally turn without looking, or zooming past the stop sign keeping a 3 second distance between you and the driver ahead of you so if he stops quickly you have a lot of time to analyze the situation and react with a lot of time not split second. Seeing the guy behind you is pissed off because you are driving safely but it seems to cautious for him and will pass you, rather angrily. You need the emotional stability that comes with age to not get pissed off and try to get even with him. There are a lot of skills that older driver bring to the road too. Giving them tools to help balance what is loss with age will only help make things better. I don't think this technology is for the 90 year old woman. But for the 60 year old person who is starting to feel his age.

Re:Please no! (4, Insightful)

fyoder (857358) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089251)

I don't think this technology is for the 90 year old woman. But for the 60 year old person who is starting to feel his age.

There are 90 year olds who can drive just fine. And there are others who are vegetables. The differences in abilities amongst the elderly can be huge. What makes sense beyond a certain age is annual tests. Grandpa passes, he can continue to drive, otherwise not. Actually assessing the ability of the individual makes a more sense than arbitrary rules. And if you need GPS to know a stop sign is coming, you shouldn't be driving. Unless kids, animals, and idiot pedestrians are chipped and show up on the display as well.

Re:Please no! (1)

edcheevy (1160545) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089189)

Exactly. Do we really want people who are apparently having trouble catching all the road signs to have a free ticket to ignore the side of the road? Best not bike, walk, or try to back a car out of a driveway in a retirement community...

Re:Please no! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25089395)

I'm not old, just 31, and I choose not to drive due to cognitive impairments (Sensory Integration Disorder, Asperger's, etc.).

I could pass the driving test and get a license if I wanted one, but it's not in the best interest of myself or the public.

Some older drivers would likely not pass a driving test if required to take one when renewing a license.

I think everyone should be required to take a written and driving test once every 5 years when renewing their license. It would be an inconvenience, but would save a lot of lives.

Chauffeur them... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088421)

I prefer to chauffeur my grannies around as they can't drive for shit and they make excellent fuckbuddies in the passenger seat.

Grannies get on top and ride me, their aged tremulous voices screaming and moaning in ecstasy while their impotent husbands sit at home.

Sexual noises are no exception and there's nothing sexier than a gracefully-aged woman's colostomy bag splorping around. You know that you're doing well when she's all gooey like that -- but be gentle, lest the colostomy bag detach and spill fetid juices of digested love all over your new cream-colored satin sheets.

Google and other can't even get address 100% much (2, Interesting)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088423)

Google and other can't even get address 100% much less road sign done to the point of where it will need to be and How big of a disk will you need to just fit each road in big city area?

Re:Google and other can't even get address 100% mu (1)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088561)

Why does it need to be linked to GPS data? Road signs are pretty easy to read with a simple camera mounted on the dashboard. You could probably add a few lines of code to the recognition software and have it read construction speed limit signs, too.

In fact, I think my neighbor's car has a display on the windshield for the speed she's going. And the car is at least from the mid to early 90s. I don't know if it reads the speed limit, though.

Re:Google and other can't even get address 100% mu (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088659)

It's not that simple and you may need more then one.

Re:Google and other can't even get address 100% mu (1)

endymion.nz (1093595) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089013)

Some Nissan Silvias had a display in the top of the dash that reflected back to the driver, but it was just a secondary speedometer reading that you could see without looking away from the windshield.

Re:Google and other can't even get address 100% mu (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088599)

English motherfucker, do you speak it????

Is it worth it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088441)

Wouldn't it be better to invest in the newer generations?

Old Guy Sez: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088443)

Get off my lawn and away from my car!

take away the keys - put them up in a home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088457)

and say good-bye to crazies on the road and in the shopping malls - you have free will !

Only Thing Needed... (2, Funny)

cfkboyz (1129423) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088469)

Directions to Country Kitchen Buffet...

Re:Only Thing Needed... (1)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088737)

Or Cracker Barrel.

Come to florida for proof this is a bad idea (0, Flamebait)

vistahator (1330955) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088495)

I think 75 should be the cutoff age for driving and that's being generous.

Reduction in reaction time? (2, Interesting)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088509)

The article says among other things: The study identified ideas for in-car information systems to help compensate for the reduction in reaction time that affects many older drivers.

I must say that I sincerely doubt that older drivers have any reduction in reaction time.

Re:Reduction in reaction time? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088637)

Well unfortunately there are a number of studies that would disagree with you. [clemson.edu]

Whoosh (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088747)

Either you misread the GPP or you think that "late 20s" qualifies as "older drivers". My money's on the former...

Re:Reduction in reaction time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088653)

Reaction time might be unaffected, but situational awareness and decision time sure are, so it's effectively the same thing.

A recent instance that springs to mind is of a senior who was pulling out of a parking lot (to make an illegal left turn incidentally), and found herself halfway into the lane before she noticed that the bus she'd almost hit was honking at her (I was on the bus). She then floundered around indecisively (the mindset I imagine squirrels have when they're crossing a road) for a good 45 seconds before she found the gearshift, then accidentally put the car back in drive, lurched even farther forward, then *finally* found reverse and backed off the road (without looking behind her).

Re:Reduction in reaction time? (1)

neuromanc3r (1119631) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088757)

Reaction time might be unaffected,

I think what the gp wants to say is that old drivers probably have an increased reaction time, not a reduced one.

Re:Reduction in reaction time? (3, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089037)

backed off the road (without looking behind her).

That had nothing to do with her age and everything to do with her ability (or lack of it) to drive. This afternoon, I was in a parking lot when a lady started to back out in front of me, then stopped for me. I waved her on saying, "You're burning gas; I'm not." She continued, after thanking me, and said, "Backing up is scary." I'm sure it was, and not just for her, because at no time did she ever turn her head to see where she was going. At a guess, she was in her mid-30s.

...reduction in reaction time... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088513)

> The study identified ideas for in-car information systems to help compensate
> for the reduction in reaction time that affects many older drivers.

We get faster with age? That's great! But why would we want to compensate for it? So as not to have an unfair advantage over younger drivers? Too late. We already have that.

We Need Self-Driving Vehicles (5, Insightful)

Louis Savain (65843) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088549)

According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis [dot.gov] , in 2005, over 43,000 people were killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. alone. I don't know what the number is for the entire world but it must be in the six digits. Most of them are not caused by older drivers. Traffic fatalities and injuries are a much bigger threat to the nation than terrorism. All the money being spent on terrorism should be thrown into developping a 100% automated transit system. And no, we don't need AI to do it.

Re:We Need Self-Driving Vehicles (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088783)

There is something that's more or less self driving that's been invented for ages. It's called a train but the problem is a lot of countries didn't for see the problems of individuals driving themselves so the rail systems leave a lot to desire.

Re:We Need Self-Driving Vehicles (1)

Man Eating Duck (534479) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088855)

And no, we don't need AI to do it.

No, we don't. We do, however, need a cognitive system sophisticated enough to be able to read visual and other inputs, and to act accordingly. As in, differentiate between a bunny in the road (take evasive action if not dangerous to anyone, otherwise crush the bunny) and a kid (take evasive action even if it might result in a crash, endangering the passengers and/or other trafficants).

That's an extremely complex problem, for which we are far away from an adequate solution as of now. Of course, a really good cognitive system could drive carefully enough to be able to avoid bunny and kid alike without having to cause danger to anyone.

Re:We Need Self-Driving Vehicles (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088915)

"All the money being spent on terrorism should be thrown into developping a 100% automated transit system. "

Driving doesn't destroy hotels [bbc.co.uk] and put mammoth craters in streets.

Re:We Need Self-Driving Vehicles (3, Insightful)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089179)

Ummm... the "statistics" (I presume you are talking about the quote from People Magazine on the left?) say nothing of the sort.

They say:

For every age group, the fatality rate per 100,000 population was lower for females than for males. The injury rate based on population was higher for females than for males in every age group, except for people under 5 years old and people over 65 years old.

Which says absolutely nothing useful. Here is just one reason why... it does not (nor do the actual statistics) indicate anything about the person who caused the accident.

Inotherwords, how old was the driver at fault? Any other age related data is pretty irrelevant to the statement you are trying to make - and sadly, that information is lacking.

I can see the mistake being an easy one... the Peope Mag quote is confusing at best, retarded at worst.

Re:We Need Self-Driving Vehicles (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089355)

Hallelujah. However I have the feeling that we'll never get a widespread automated driving system before we get flying cars, at which point it'll be ten times easier to make them fully automated and avoid accidents.

Flying cars are the wave of the future, you heard it here first!

Baby Boomers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088559)

Just in time for the incoming wave of our aging baby boomers...It feels like everything these days is centered around them.

Re:Baby Boomers (3, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088615)

It feels like everything for the past 40 years has been centered around them.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Baby Boomers (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089061)

I'm a baby boomer, and quite frankly, it sounds good to me!

in solviet russia, let the car drive you (4, Funny)

floatingrunner (621481) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088591)

a car that just drives them to their desired destination beats thousands of buttons and blips and bleeps of LED light. we need the DARPA SENIOR 65+ challenge

I work with the elderly... (5, Insightful)

hedgemage (934558) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088593)

And the problem with driving is complicated by many, many factors. First off, you have vision problems, hearing problems, problems placing objects in space (as much cognitive as visual), memory (even short term things like cancelling a turn signal), reaction speed, fine motor skills, and the list goes on. The folks I deal with are not computer users, and their unfamiliarity with them would make the addition of GPS, warning lights, vocal instructions simply more confusing than helpful. The real solution shouldn't be keeping elderly drivers driving, but rather giving them more safe and accessible public transportation options.

Forget granny (2, Funny)

RichardDeVries (961583) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088595)

A HUD? With the relevant traffic signs on it? What does that have to do with old people? I want those things!

How about this instead (0)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088605)

We should realise that driving is dangerous and it's not a right. So when you hit a certain age you should be tested on a regular basis because the fact is old people do start losing their ability to react, remember things among other problems.

To be quite honest I'd like to say that once you hit 65 you lose your licence full stop but that probably won't happen especially while the ageing population is growing but I think you'd find that would help a lot.

And younger people who drive dangerously should lose their licence for life. Having an accident is fine but there is zero reason for being a road raging retard.

Re:How about this instead (1)

DarkNinja75 (990459) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088629)

Punish teenagers for what they did when they were young and stupid, and make it so they can never redeem themselves? Great life lesson there.

Re:How about this instead (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089311)

And if they do something stupid and kill someone how does that person that is killed get to go back to leading a normal life?

I'm all for freedom but people always forget that each and every freedom comes with responsibility. Speeding and over taking people does not result in anything. People don't realise that passing some one who drives slowly doesn't do squat unless you can hold that higher speed for a long time. In most cases you don't actually solve anything by over taking people. You certainly don't achieve anything by driving drunk or driving aggressive so why do it? Why ignore all the facts that say it's dumb t do those things? If you fail at basic comprehension then you shouldn't be driving. Keep in mind it's not a right it's a privilege.

You wouldn't want a murderer to be able to buy a gun or allow a drunk pilot to fly a 747 so why should someone with the same careless mentality be bale to get behind the wheel of a car?

Re:How about this instead (4, Informative)

Gandalf_the_Beardy (894476) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088871)

This is what we do in the UK - your licence expires at 70. You can get it back if you reapply - but only for three years each time. There is also checking done with your GP to be certain you are still fit to drive.

Old people aren't the problem. (4, Insightful)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088909)

I disagree with you on the basis that the elderly are no more responsible for wrecks than teens and young adults.

U.S drivers under the age of 25 are about twice as likely [census.gov] to be involved in a fatal wreck and often 3-5 times more likely to be in a wreck per 1000 drivers.

I've seen some statistics from Canada as well which echo similar results.

Remember, old people don't drive well because they are impaired... Young people don't drive well because they make reckless and/or inexperienced decisions. If you want to restrict licenses, then you should probably start with not issuing licenses until the mid twenties for males and late teens to early 20s for women... It seems teen/young adult wrecks coincide pretty well with frontal lobe development... which in itself, could be labeled an impairment.

Re:Old people aren't the problem. (2, Insightful)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089409)

Remember, old people don't drive well because they are impaired... Young people don't drive well because they make reckless and/or inexperienced decisions. If you want to restrict licenses, then you should probably start with not issuing licenses until the mid twenties for males and late teens to early 20s for women... It seems teen/young adult wrecks coincide pretty well with frontal lobe development... which in itself, could be labeled an impairment.

and revoke female license holders once they reach the age of 30, and were all set.

keep them behind the wheel (1)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088611)

Just don't let them drive if they have long reaction times or bad vision.

Older drivers the hell? (3, Interesting)

fishthegeek (943099) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088619)

Look grandpa might have slower reaction times but how much reaction time do you need going 12 miles an hour with a right turn signal on? I know older drivers can be a pain but you just don't see too many of 'em in accidents. They forget where their keys are I suppose.

Nearly every close call I've had in the last 8 years was cell phone related. How about we tell those damn kids (who are still on my lawn by the way) to stop texting, reading, watching movies, and fiddling around with their GPS while driving to frakin' stop that stupid crap.

Re:Older drivers the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088837)

Bullshit, I work EMS here in Canada and we're continually pulling the elderly out of cars, because they 'just didn't see' whatever it was they hit. Often, they don't even have a clue as to what happened. We've even had elderly people that somehow ended up on the wrong side of the highway, driving against traffic!

While you might like to believe that 'grandpa' doesn't get into accidents, we see just as many of them causing them as we do drunk drivers, poor drivers or young, inexperienced drivers.

Re:Older drivers the hell? (2, Insightful)

powerlinekid (442532) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088935)

That is anecdotal... just like the below.

Every accident I've been involved in over the past 10 years involved a driver over 70 years old. One passed a turning vehicle to hit another turning vehicle without even slowing. The other decided that making a right hand turn into an oncoming vehicle was a good idea. And we're not talking cutting someone off here... we're talking about broadsiding them.

The only ones who know just how safe elderly drivers are as a whole is probably the insurance agencies.

Re:Older drivers the hell? (2, Interesting)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089373)

over 65 per mile accident rates start to increase
after 75-85 per mile accident rates are equivalent to teenagers
over 85 is the worst group on the road today per mile.

But insurance rates don't reflect these per mile rates because elderly drivers generally use good judgment - not driving at night, sticking to local roads, driving less, etc.

Many states have tried programs like vision tests, road tests, and so on. None of these programs has had great success in sorting out who is fit to drive and who is not. However just putting the tests in place does seem to discourage marginal drivers from continuing to drive.

Re:Older drivers the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088967)

In the last two years my brother and my father have had their trucks totalled by elderly drivers. One woman took a left turn in front of my father and a man decided that a 2 inch clearing of snow on his windshield was acceptable visibility to drive, ultimately plowing his car into the front end of my brother's S-10. These problems are real and do need to be addressed. Clearly, in both instances the judgement to drive or take an action was unadvisable yet the drivers did so anyway. Instead of encouraging aging drivers and making it more comfortable for them to get behind the wheel, we should be making driving less comfortable in hopes of discouraging carelessness.

And, because you've not had a close call probably doesn't mean much. Do you happen to live where elderly people tend to retire? I bet not.

or how about.... (1)

doofusclam (528746) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088621)

... they get a fucking taxi?

Round here (Gloucestershire, England) they're worse than the boy racers. They don't indicate, take ridiculous changes-of-heart in betweeen manoeuvres, drive at 20mph and piss me off. Get a taxi.

Re:or how about.... (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088949)

"... they get a fucking taxi?"

Were's Johnny Cab when you need one?

No no no. (5, Funny)

Zwicky (702757) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088631)

Always upgrade to the newest stable drivers. Have we learned nothing?

Re:No no no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088707)

mod parent up!

Re:No no no. (5, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088841)

don't go with the 1.6 version though it's known to crash more often. Risk analysis has shown that 2.5 version seems to be much better judging by the insurance costs. Version 6.5+ varies in quality depending on the install and how well it has been maintained.

Missing the point (2, Insightful)

taustin (171655) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088657)

Anything that makes it safer for older drivers to keep driving will make it safer for all drivers to keep driving. An 18 year old shouldn't be looking at the dashboard or road signe any more than necessary. In fact, there isn't a single argument that isn't equally valid for drunk drivers as it is for older drivers. The point isn't to make it easier for drivers who have lost the ability to drive safely to keep driving. The point is to assess all drivers, of all ages and walks of life, on an ongoing basis, based on current technogy, to make certain they still have the physical and mental skills necessary to meet the current requirements for a license. This is just a dodge to A) make money, and B) court the AARP vote.

Re:Missing the point (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089219)

In fact, there isn't a single argument that isn't equally valid for drunk drivers as it is for older drivers.

This highlights the severity of the problem - my mother in law is 70, and I'll bet you a whole lot of money I could drive more safely after drinking a 12-pack than she does sober.

Not that I *would* drive drunk - but that's the point. I know I don't have any business on the road in that condition; neither does she. And she's not the worst elderly driver I've seen by a long shot.

This is just a dodge to A) make money, and B) court the AARP vote.

Yup. This is off-topic, but I've often wondered if this country would be less fucked if we moved voting from Tuesday to the weekend. That way, people who aren't chronically unemployed or retired could vote a little more easily. As it is, the vote is practically ruled by deadbeats and geezers.

Fewer signs, more thought (2, Informative)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088681)

The Atlantic recently had a very good article [theatlantic.com] comparing the philosophies of road design in North America versus in Europe.

In brief: lots of road signs (1) micromanage drivers, (2) make drivers complacent to an individual sign's importance, (3) cause drivers to pay more attention to the side of the road in search of signs and less attention on actual road conditions, and (4) condition drivers to not think for themselves (e.g. driver slower than the limit in poor visibility or in rain).

The suggestions mentioned in TFAS seem to be an extension of this philosophy.

Meanwhile, the reason seniors are so isolated when they don't have cars is because North American cities tend to be built as a series of urban islands. With more liveable communities and better-connected public transit, it wouldn't be quite as bad for people of any age to not drive a car when it is not safe for them to do so.

- RG>

Re:Fewer signs, more thought (2, Informative)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089217)

I am living in Germany, and recently saw a very interesting german tv program about older drivers. Currently there is no law concerning the age of drivers. The producer of the program, who was about 60, showed his mother, 80, driving around his grandmother, of 100 years old. His grandmother still had a valid driver's license, written in the old-style german font!!! "just for emergencies". He convinced his grandmother to turn in her driver's license, and his mother to do a voluntary test of sight and reaction times. She was quite fit, so passed the test.

Why is this a problem in Germany, a country with a pretty decent public transport system? The elderly are most often those who stay in the villages deep in the country. As small shops close, local doctors merge to a big medical center in a town nearby, they will have to move increasingly large distances as they get older. Financially it is possible only to have about 1-2 buses per day. There are special cheaper taxi services, with long waiting times however.

If I remember correctly, he mentioned that in 10-20 years, more than 50% of all drivers will be above 60. They will need private transportation, and they will need specialized guidance systems to not make them as dangerous as 20 year old drivers, where the elderly often have the more freaky accidents, making u-turns on the autobahn for example. This will require developments of automation that I am currently a bit skeptical about, but there is no other way. As others mentioned, having more displays, beeps, and warning messages will create more reasons to panic and not mind the road, and is therefore not the way to go.

I call bovine feces (2)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088709)

OK, let me mince words.

This is bullshit.

My 80 yr old grandmother has been in 3 accidents in as many months. SHE states she needs to be off the road, but at the same time, she refuses to let her freedom go.

I call bullshit. Let the ARRP get some people to help the elders. They just DON'T have the reaction time that younger (relatively) drivers have.

But, I guess we can't say anything bad about the elderly. After all, nobody is entitled to bring anyone else down in these U.S. of America.

But seriously.... My grandfather sold his 80K dollar travel trailer, truck and everything when HE realized that it wasn't safe. Then he became one of the WORST people against old people driving, just because he had enough common sense to "get off the road".

--Toll_Free

Re:I call bovine feces (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089249)

Brave guy, your grandfather. There are two things, though. One is, it may be a better idea to create a compulsory fitness test, to estimate the driving safety of a person. If you have lost more sight than can be compensated by glasses, it might not be smart for you to be on the road. The other is, there should be a viable alternative. If giving up your driver's license means not getting anywhere but your home, you will most likely do all you can to keep it. Spending some research on viability checks of alternatives to individual transport of the elderly might not be a bad idea.

Re:I call bovine feces (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089339)

"My 80 yr old grandmother has been in 3 accidents in as many months. SHE states she needs to be off the road, but at the same time, she refuses to let her freedom go."

Disable the vehicle. Sooner or later younger relatives need to have the "you will stop driving" conversation with their (literally) demented older relatives. I didn't have to call the cops to get my parents off the road (they understood their faculties were toast) but I would in order to keep them from killing themselves or others.

Of course, try to reason as gently as possible first. Old people know they are closer to inevitable physical collapse and mental incompetence every day. Be kind, but be firm.

Wrong Goals (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088721)

When they place the comfort of seniors above the safety of everyone, we have already lost.

Re:Wrong Goals (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089203)

Depends...

Re:Wrong Goals (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089401)

There should be a fairly demanding driving test that one has to take every 5 or so years. Perform too poorly and your license is revoked until you can perform better. No reference to age, simply performance, so it's not discriminating except for what matters.

Aren't they forgetting something? (1)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088727)

...the important psychological role that driving plays in older people's lives in contributing to feelings of independence and freedom and maintaining their quality of life.

Is anyone worried about maintaining the quality of life of the unfortunate pedestrians in the crosswalk in front of grandpa when he gets the brake and gas pedals confused?

~Philly

Re:Aren't they forgetting something? (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089343)

Is anyone worried about maintaining the quality of life of the unfortunate pedestrians in the crosswalk in front of grandpa when he gets the brake and gas pedals confused?

That's more likely to happen with a new driver. After 50 years of driving experience, gramps long ago ceased to have to think about it.

Old people aren't the problem (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088729)

Most fatalities are in the age range of 18-24, ad primarily involve males. That says to me that its younger people who haven't learned to drive responsibly who are the root problem to be addressed.

Re:Old people aren't the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088973)

And the bulk of such crashes are caused by speed, alcohol, or just plain inexperience, all of which decrease effective reaction time. Just like older drivers...

What this says, to me, is that we *need* cars with features such as collision avoidance radar and speed limiters. As much as we'd initially hate them, I think in the end we'd come to love them.

Imagine - at the moment, the speed limit on a road is 100km/h (about 65mph for the metrically-challenged). Such limits are largely to allow sufficient reaction time for drivers to hit the brakes. With an appropriate collision avoidance system (that also keeps the correct distance from the car in front), you wouldn't be *able* to tailgate, and your car would automatically stop when a hazard entered the road ahead. Speeds could easily increase to, say, 150-200 km/h, with the right combination of hardware, with no increase in fatalities. Yeah, there would still be accidents. But a computer-controlled system that hits the brakes within milliseconds of a hazard entering the road will go a long way to stopping that.

unless you live in South Florida... (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088779)

you aren't going to realize what a huge mistake this is. There are drivers here that would make you turn white. These blue-hairs trying to drive their land-yacht cars and endangering the rest of us. I completely agree that most fatalities occur in younger, inexperienced drivers. But most accidents, at least here, are caused by old people.

I've seen a man over 70 who had to physically lift his leg off the accelerator pedal and put it on the brake. To make matters worse, he was driving a gigantic Cadillac El Dorado. The man could barely see, and that's bad enough, but he could barely physically drive. Technology here isn't the answer, public transportation is.

Keeping Seniors Driving = Votes (1)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088787)

So long as the older folks have tremendous power at the ballot box, there's only a minor chance we'll see them having to be retested every so often to renew their licenses.

My grandfather, who's in his early 80s, continues to drive occasionally during the day and without incident. Maybe that extra old computer I gave him is keeping him sharp?

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088789)

old people can't even use a dvd player, and end up yelling at things they can't get to work ( i used to work in a video/tech store ). What do you think will happen when the blinky thing on their windshield isn't doing what they want? or when they try to program the system while in transit? technology + old people=bad

Nightmare (2, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088825)

If anything, reaction will be slower. I can now imagine what would happen if my parents would have a head ups display.

* Well, officer, there suddenly were these letters in front of me and while I was changing my driving glasses for my reading glasses, I hit the car in front of me. And I was just on my way to my grand-son. Little houghi is now engaged, you know. Lovely girl it is. They will get married next summer in ...

At a certain age EVERYTHING becomes a distraction. My parents can't even drive with the radio on anymore. If I tell them to go left or right, I need to tell that WAY in advance and need to repeat it three times.
I would not dare to give them a GPS, let alone ask them to handle one.

Feelings of Independence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088941)

"A new study...highlights the important psychological role that driving plays in older people's lives in contributing to feelings of independence and freedom and maintaining their quality of life."

You know, I buy this. I can understand why it would be hard for an older person to hear "sorry, you can't do that anymore." I'm sure it's genuinely painful to lose the independence to go anywhere you've had since you were sixteen.

But, I'm sorry, no. I'm sorry it hurts their feeling of self worth, but that's a crappy reason to keep people who don't have the reflexes, coordination, and visual acuity to drive safely on the road.

If you're not physically capable of driving safely, it's not ABOUT you. It's about keeping everyone ELSE on the road safe.

That better be some damn good technology (1)

Nyckname (240456) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089015)

The first time I became aware of this issue was on a "60 Minutes" segment in the mid '80s. They talked about an elderly women in Florida who had killed a total of seven people, in two separate instances at the same bus stop. And she was still fighting the state to keep her license. "Loss of independence" was cited as the reason.

Not worried about older drivers (1)

twasserman (878174) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089043)

I'll be a senior well before many other Slashdotters, and expect that I'll continue to take public transportation when possible, avoid driving at night or on the freeways, and even bike around town as long as I am healthy enough to do so.

In the meantime, though, I'm concerned about surviving my hellish commutes on the freeways. Apart from those who [illegally] text or talk on their mobile phones while driving, there are all too many drivers who seem personally offended that I am in front of them, even at 75-80 mph. They'll drive right up on my tail, pass me, and then switch lanes every few hundred yards in the hope that they can get to their destination a few seconds faster. It's too bad that the Highway Patrol doesn't crack down on them.

These cars routinely zip past the older drivers, who stay close to the speed limit, usually in the right hand lane. I worry more about single drivers in Escalades, Excursions, Tahoes, and other large vehicles that completely block my view of the road ahead.

For now, I just hope to live long enough to become an older driver!

Will this be instantaneous? (1)

Paco103 (758133) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089071)

Ok, so the HUD/GPS Combo could alert a driver that a sharp turn is coming up on this back country road, and it could notify the driver that there's a stopsign hidden behind that tree (or that has been stolen again). What about instantaneous conditions? It's not going to help with stoplights for sure, but what about road work when that guy is standing in the middle of the street with a slow/stop sign? What about this new intersection that was just added last week, how will these updates get to your car on time?

I think a HUD would be absolutely AWESOME (even for us young whippersnappers), when it comes to things like vehicle and environment information (temp, blindspot sensors, etc), even GPS, but it can't substitute for the ability to watch the road. Things will always pop up, and we can't let people drive just because their car will tell them when a stop sign is coming up, because it WON'T tell them when there's someone on a bike on the shoulder, or a broke down car on the road, or any other number of things.

I don't in any way think that driving should be cut off at a certain age, but it should be more seriously tested than it is now. Young people can have poor reflexes and eyesight, and people in their 80's can be perfectly healthy and competent to drive.

Anger Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25089183)

There are certain roads I avoid unless absolutely required to drive on. Mainly because of all the old people in the area who drive 10+ mph under the speed limit regardless of the time or road conditions. On the other roads I drive, almost daily I get cut off by some old person usually with a handicap tag, who doesn't bother to actually look in the mirrors before switching lanes and most of that time with no signal. What are we going to do with the people who don't even make the effort to even look out their windows? What really boiled my blood one day was watching an old woman coming out of the grocery store, plodding along at a snails pace with a walker in front of her and some guy carrying her bags. How can she drive a car if she can't even get to her car without assistance? Christ, some days I thought I've ruptured a blood vessel from stressing out about all the old people on the road.

BASTARDS!!! (1)

NerveGas (168686) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089197)

I keep working at getting them out of the car earlier.

  There's a whoooole lot more than lessened reactions... and even more than the fact that their ability to judge distance and speed of oncoming objects diminishes, too. There's an overall lack of awareness in many situations.

Until we have those cars that will drive themselves, then get them out of the cars.

And when we DO get cars that drive themselves, I'll buy one for my parents, and one for myself.

Personal Experiences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25089291)

In reality, I have seen older drivers 1. Pull out in front of oncoming traffic leaving no or little reaction time and impeding traffic flow. If you doubt this looking at the traffic accident log of any police station in a retirement community, Panama City Florida is just ONE example. 2. My sister was stopped at a traffic light in Los Angeles she was the only car at the light, the light was RED. An elderly couple didn't see the red light and ran into my sister's car. If she had not seen it happening she would have been pushed out into oncoming traffic. The elderly couple said the driver had lost his glasses but thought it was okay to drive home. I would much rather spend money on improving public transportation than trying to invent a technology that would lead to more liability and more accidents.

Fails to account for one thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25089337)

Old people's technophobia.

More technology for old people? (1)

stevedmc (1065590) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089411)

Giving more technology to old people behind the wheel sounds pretty scary to me. My mom doesn't know the difference between low beams and high beams. Just imagine her trying to control a computer in addition to the headlights. Shoot, my grandpa can barely turn the TV on.

MORE mass transportation (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089415)

In france, people living in bordeaux can board the train and make it to their jobs in paris, 400-500 km away, just in an hour or so.

in america, people suffer 1-1.5 hours of traffic to go to their jobs downtown.

the solution is simple. more, quality mass transportation. this way you can assure that life quality and independence of older citizens never deteriorates, and also you can save younger citizens from wasting their life away in traffic.
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