- Automakers are taking into account the aging population of the U.S. as they implement design changes and new technology into their vehicles.
- The $2,395 Driver Assist package on the 2014 Cadillac SRX crossover is one example of the technology that can aid older drivers, according to General Motors.
- The controls of the 2015 Chrysler 200 have been designed for easy use by all drivers, including those over 65, said Chrysler.
DETROIT — Automakers are taking into account the aging population of the U.S. as they implement design changes and new technology into their vehicles. The 2015 Chrysler 200, 2014 Cadillac SRX and 2013-'14 Nissan Altima are examples of this trend.
The $2,395 Driver Assist package on the 2014 Cadillac SRX crossover is one example of the technology that can aid older drivers, according to General Motors. The package includes front and rear automatic braking and automatic collision preparation.
General Motors called attention in a recent statement to technologies like rearview cameras, park assist, blind-zone and lane-departure warnings, front automatic braking and cross-traffic alerts that are especially helpful to older drivers.
GM said it also takes the needs of elderly drivers into consideration during the vehicle design process: "Focus areas include foot room and making it easier for passengers to get in and out of the vehicle. Sitting in the back rows of a vehicle and swinging a foot through the open door can be a challenge for elderly people whose range of motion can be limited."
The controls of the 2015 Chrysler 200 — everything from tactile buttons and switches to the 7-inch display with large, clear fonts — have been designed for easy use by all drivers, including those over 65, according to the automaker.
The 2013-'14 Nissan Altima debuted NASA-inspired "zero-gravity" seats based on posture research from the space agency. They employ a unique articulated seat shape with continuous support from the pelvis to the chest and help to reduce muscular and spinal loads and improve blood flow. They are said to be of particular benefit to older drivers.
Nissan and Ford engineers wear special suits during the design process that simulates the effects of aging and allows them to experience the vehicle's controls as older drivers would.
According to a Nissan statement: "The suits can simulate poor balance through a raised front-toe design, cataract goggles simulate failing eyesight, casts on the body simulate arthritic pain by making it more difficult to raise arms and legs, and color-deficiency goggles simulate problems distinguishing colors."
In addition to driver-assist devices and design, Ford is using the latest developments in technology to address the health and wellness requirements of its older customers.
Gary Strumolo, Ford's manager of vehicle design and infotronics, explained in a statement: "We're trying to do that with a three-pronged approach. One is connecting to the cloud, connecting to mobile health services that are on the Web. The other is actually connecting to devices that you bring in, so if you're carrying this continuous-glucose monitor that communicates through Bluetooth, Sync has the ability to pair with it just as it can pair with the phone. And the third is to leverage the number of smart apps which are on smartphones."
Fully autonomous vehicles — at best still a few years in the future — will certainly be a benefit to the aging population, but in the meantime it seems that almost all manufacturers are moving forward with new designs and advanced technology that are being developed with older drivers in mind.
According to the National Highway Transportation Administration, there are 35 million licensed drivers over the age of 65 in the U.S., a number that is expected to increase by more than 20 percent by 2030.
Edmunds says: Older and younger drivers will benefit from many of these high-tech features and advanced designs.