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Older drivers not ready for driverless cars, but like some new stuff

Seniors like blind-spot warnings, back-up cameras but they aren’t too new anymore

Senior driver in his old fashion roadsterNov. 10, 2015 - When it comes to self-driving cars, senior drivers, ages 50 to 69, express more interest in “test-driving” a driverless car than in actually purchasing one. But, there are a couple of new technologies they like and are willing to buy, according to new research.

As car manufacturers continue to introduce new technologies in their vehicles, blind-spot warning systems and back-up cameras are the technologies mature drivers are most willing to adopt, according to research by The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab.

The Vehicle Technology Adoption Among Mature Drivers study found that mature drivers consistently favor technologies that improve driving safety, but some think certain advancements make drivers too reliant on technology.

Adoption was defined in terms of drivers wanting the technologies in the vehicle, thinking they are worth having, being willing to purchase them and being likely to use them.

These older drivers are most willing to adopt the following technologies out of a list of seven included in the study:

         Blind-spot warning systems

         Reverse back-up cameras

         Smart headlights

         Collision avoidance systems

         Lane departure warnings

 “In this study, we wanted to understand mature drivers' willingness to adopt vehicle technologies,” said Jodi Olshevski, gerontologist and executive director of The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence.

“These technologies are becoming more available in new cars today, so it’s important that all drivers learn how they work and how to use them effectively.  This is especially true for mature drivers, as many technologies can enhance the driving experience as we age.”

Purchase and Use of Vehicle Technologies

Ninety-six percent of mature drivers reported that they would be willing to buy a car with at least one of the seven auto technologies in the study; nearly 10 percent indicated that they would be willing to buy all seven of the technologies.

A majority of participants also indicated they would be quite likely to use reverse back-up cameras, blind-spot warning systems, smart headlights, lane departure warning systems and collision avoidance systems if they had them.

And, a majority thought each of the seven technologies was worth having. Collision avoidance and blind spot warning systems were more likely to be perceived as worth having at any price than the other technologies in the study.

“Drivers who are experienced with technology in general, trust it, and see themselves as able to learn how to use it are more receptive to adopting vehicle technologies,” said Joseph F. Coughlin, Ph.D., Director of the MIT AgeLab.

“These tech-savvy drivers feel more positively about vehicle technologies overall and are more likely to recommend that a family member or friend purchase a car with new technologies.”

Safety First

The study revealed that mature drivers believe the primary benefit of many vehicle technologies is to improve safety for the driver.

This is how they rated them as for being connected to safety.:

         back-up cameras (78%)

         blind-spot warning systems (77%)

         collision avoidance systems (68%)

         lane departure warning systems (64%), and

         smart headlights (63%).

Yet some mature drivers worried that other new technologies might make drivers too reliant on the technologies themselves, including parking assistance (42%) and adaptive cruise control (25%).

Google's driverless carMost Mature Drivers Not Ready for Driverless Cars

When it comes to self-driving cars, almost three-quarters (70%) of participants said they would test-drive a self-driving car, compared to only 31 percent who would purchase one, even it if was the same price as a “regular” car.

If a self-driving car and a “regular” car were the same price, more participants would buy the “regular” car (39%) than the self-driving one (31%).

To help mature drivers learn more about vehicle technologies, The Hartford developed a free guidebook and an interactive video quiz. These resources and more are available at

As the exclusive national provider of auto and home insurance for AARP members over the last 30 years, The Hartford has insured millions of drivers over the age of 50.

Vehicle Technology Adoption Among Mature Drivers is the Center for Mature Market Excellence and the MIT AgeLab’s third joint research project focused on vehicle technology and is a follow up to Top Technologies for Mature Drivers: Consumer Insights in 2013 and the Top Technologies for Mature Drivers: Expert Ranking in 2012. All three studies examined vehicle technology and driving safety for mature drivers.

Research Methodology

The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab conducted a multi-method research project with 302 drivers ages 50-69 to assess their likelihood to adopt current vehicle technologies. In the study, participants viewed a video about seven vehicle technologies (blind-spot warning systems, reverse back-up cameras, smart headlights, collision avoidance systems, lane departure warnings, parking assistance and adaptive cruise control), as well as a video about a self-driving car, and responded to the videos via a perception analyzer tool. Participants also completed a conjoint analysis, a small group discussion and pre/post-test questionnaires. 


About The Hartford

With more than 200 years of expertise, The Hartford (NYSE: HIG) reports it is a leader in property and casualty insurance, group benefits and mutual funds. The company says it is widely recognized for its service excellence, sustainability practices, trust and integrity. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at More at Facebook and on Twitter.

About The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence

The company says its Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence creates innovative business solutions for the mature market. Staffed by gerontologists, the center is “uniquely positioned” to apply knowledge of aging to develop one-of-a-kind products and services for The Hartford's customers, and specialized training for The Hartford's employees. The center conducts original research in partnership with academic institutions and produces public education programs on safety, mobility and independence. The Hartford has had this in-house expertise since 1984, guiding The Hartford to unparalleled success in understanding and serving the mature market.

About the MIT AgeLab

The MIT AgeLab says it is a multidisciplinary research program that works with business, government, and NGOs to improve the quality of life of older people and those who care for them. The AgeLab applies consumer-centered systems thinking to understand the challenges and opportunities of longevity and emerging generational lifestyles to catalyze innovation. For more information go to, or follow the AgeLab Director on Twitter @JosephCoughlin.


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