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In-car safety technology can benefit older drivers: Rica

Wednesday 1st October 2014

the International Day of Older People, a UK consumer research charity is calling for usability testing by older drivers of the newer in-car technologies.

With the number of older people with driving licences now exceeding four million, a new report by Rica (Research Institute for Consumer Affairs) suggests that in-car safety technologies could offer a “better and safer driving experience for many older drivers”.

The Rica In-car safety technology report is based on an online survey of 471 motorists aged over 55 years, who gave their views and experiences of in-car technology. 

Rica has also published a separate report, In-car safety technology: literature and expert opinion, which gathers views from academia and industry experts.

In the survey, 59% of respondents could not name an in-car safety technology that might keep them driving for longer.

It also found that those who have most concerns about in-car safety technology have little or no experience of it, while those who have the technology are largely very positive.

Once explained, 91% of respondents agreed that technologies such as collision avoidance, blind spot detection/monitoring and night vision could help keep them driving for longer.

The majority of respondents preferred technologies where they retain some control of the vehicle.

While many respondents expressed concerns about safety while driving, they continue to use their vehicles into their later years, with 50% of the 85+ year olds stating they are not thinking of giving up driving.

In response to the survey, Rica is proposing “usability testing with older drivers as a specific investigation because the human machine interface (HMI) in cars can often provide too many distractions”.

Rica says that usability testing with older people during product design is common for many products, and can be applied to in-car safety technology.

Eric Harris, senior researcher at Rica, said: “In-car safety technologies are increasingly of benefit to drivers to keep safe. More usability research is, however, needed to identify how these developments can be more easily used by older drivers.”

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