SatNav keeping OAPs on the straight and narrow
MY dear old nan isn’t really one for technology. Just last week I called round to see her and she spent a good five minutes trying to change the channel on her telly with my mobile phone.
Still, she insists that she’d be lost without her car and regularly takes a trip into town in her little Nissan Micra.
Trouble is her fellow motorists aren’t as patient (I’m thinking of one curry-loving ant in particular here). Some people feel that old people shouldn’t be allowed on the road.
Personally, I think there are quite a few more dangerous folks on the road than my nan.
But, in order to help OAPs on the roads, some boffins at Newcastle University have come with a SatNav system for the elderly.
It sounds like a great idea. The SatNav isn’t all about trying to get them to their destination as quickly as possible, it’s all about safety and avoid busy roads. That’s not only good news for people like my nan, but also other, shall we say, more impatient road users.
The SatNav will map out the best route, cutting out things like dual carriageways and right turns. It also make it easier for elderly drivers to spot landmarks by showing pictures such as post boxes and pubs (no, nan you can’t pop in for a quick sherry).
Advanced features for older drivers
There’s also a few other nifty features such as intelligent speed adaptations (clearly not something GrAnt is familiar with) and night vision systems (for some reason this conjures up visions of loads of old people driving around with big green goggles on).
According to the folks at Newcastle, when old people stop driving, it leads to a quicker decline in their overall well being. GrAnt’s driving has a similar affect – it leads to a decline in the wellbeing of other motorists, and his car.
Professor Phil Blythe explains the theory behind this new development:
“For many older people, particularly those living alone or in rural areas, driving is essential for maintaining their independence, giving them the freedom to get out and about without having to rely on others.”
“But we all have to accept that as we get older our reactions slow down and this often results in people avoiding any potentially challenging driving conditions and losing confidence in their driving skills. The result is that people stop driving before they really need to. “
“What we are doing is to look at ways of keeping people driving safely for longer, which in turn boosts independence and keeps us socially connected.”
Older drivers don’t always drive slower
The findings from the research carried out in the intriguingly entitled ‘DriveLAB’ were fascinating. The team there monitor elderly people’s driving habits in their driving simulator and unearthed some fascinating results.
They were able to look at things like eye movement, speed, reaction, lane position, acceleration, braking and driving efficiency.
One of the more surprising results was that older people don’t necessarily drive slower, as most of us would think. In fact, the findings found that elderly drivers found it difficult to maintain a constant speed in a 30mph zone and therefore were more likely to exceed the speed limit.
Crikey, Nan, don’t go clocking up any penalty points. Don’t worry if you do, though, I’ll still be able to sort you out with some cheap car insurance.