New car technologies available to aid Australian seniors
Cars are no longer simply metal boxes with four tyres and windows. They’re filled to the brim with technology – Bluetooth, sensors, park assist and everything in between. The question is, do these assist seniors on the road, or are they a distraction?
We look at the different car technologies – both internal-focused and external-focused – that have emerged over the past few years, and how they may benefit senior Australians.
Every Australian state has a law against using a mobile phone while driving, and the penalties differ depending on your state.1 Thanks to the wireless, hands-free technology of Bluetooth, you no longer have to touch your phone in order to answer calls or send messages. Bluetooth has been around for years2, yet older cars don’t have it built into their consoles. Luckily, there are other ways you can install Bluetooth into an older car to assist you with staying online while on the road.3
Rear and front sensors can help with depth-perception to assist the driver when parking. The beeps will get faster the closer you are to an object, so as you watch in your rear-view mirror (or reversing camera) you can clearly see and hear how much room you have left.4
As with sensors, rear cameras help when dealing with external elements to the car. They’re an exceptionally good safety feature when it comes to reversing, especially when there are lots of people or things around.4 For seniors, this reduces the need to physically turn around in your car to see what’s behind you, which may help those with back and neck problems. Additionally, they also help with peripheral vision, meaning you can often see more through the camera than you could if you simply turned your head.5
Blind spot monitoring
There’s nothing worse than trying to change lanes and seeing a car in your peripheral vision just before you make the move. This is especially true as we get older as it’s sometimes our peripheral vision that falters.5 Enter blind spot monitoring. The cameras and sensors monitor the areas to the rear of our cars often hidden by the body of the car itself. The warning will appear as a blinking light on the side mirror of your car. In some cars, it will also beep inside.5
This is sometimes out of our control, but how many times have you had to brake hard because the person in front has stopped suddenly? There are two types of collision warnings, depending on the manufacturer and model of your car. The first one beeps to warn you if there is an object ahead, giving you warning to stop the car or at least minimise the effect of a collision. The second, more sophisticated technology automatically prepares the brakes for a quicker response.6
Lane departure warning
Lane assist technologies are becoming standard safety features in newer cars. Like collision warnings, this technology is designed to prevent accidents commonly caused by driver distractions such as fatigue or loss of concentration. Using a sensor at the front of the vehicle, the car will visually and audibly warn you if you are veering into another lane without an indicator on.6
Struggle to park? Park assist will guide you into the spot you’ve chosen using a guide on your dashboard monitor. Some cars will even help park the car for you by slightly taking over the steering wheel.7
There is a night-vision option in some higher-end car models, so when driving in darker conditions, you can identify objects that may be on the road. Of course, this is especially handy when driving along country roads where an animal may suddenly appear.8 Of course, you’ll need to check with your manufacturer about the legalities of the darker window tint, as this will depend on state law.
Is simple best?
It’s important to acknowledge once you have new car technologies, you may begin to rely on them to drive. The key is to ensure you are still in control. Continue using your skills if possible, for example, if there are rear sensors in your car, still turn around or look in your rear-view mirror to make sure you’re not going to hit whatever is behind you.
Research has shown older drivers have fewer accidents than their younger counterparts. But in an accident, seniors are more likely to be seriously or fatally injured.9 While you still need to ensure you are concentrating and in control of the vehicle, updated technologies will help keep seniors on the road for longer, as long as you are comfortable and cleared to drive.
Protect yourself and your car with a quality car insurance policy, such as those offered by the Australian Seniors Insurance Agency.
13 Mar 2018