Driving skills of seniors to benefit from smart technology
Senior citizens are very much attached to their mobility, and more specifically to their car, as a last resort for their self-reliance. But at the same time, they are confronted with their decaying driving skills, a gradual process that is not always conscious. They need tutoring.
The organization CARA (short for CuARdian Angel and a daughter of the VIAS traffic safety institute) wants to help them stay longer and safer at the wheel. It thinks to do so by the use of three smart applications that it’s developing.
Virtual tutor MyCoach
The first one is a self-test on a computer that examines the reaction speed, perception, and danger recognition of the older driver. The tests are scientifically based and produce a personal report.
To check driving skills in real traffic, the senior driver can then switch to MyCoach. This works via an onboard camera that records journeys and then gives the driver a score via an app and tips to brush up on the driving skills.
MyCoach strives for objectivity and gives points in the fields ‘keeping distance’, ‘cornering’, ‘speed’, ‘keeping track’, and ‘braking’. Depending on the scores obtained, these disciplines are colored green or red.
Stress-free routes with MyRoad
However, being able to drive safely is, to a great extent, also a matter of moving stress-free between traffic. That is why CARA has developed MyRoad, perhaps their most interesting app. This navigation module works via smartphone. It takes the user’s preferred routes into account (such as no highway, avoiding busy points, weather conditions, etc.) and maps dangerous points.
The route calculation will plot the most relaxed route, good for the driver’s sense of control and road safety. Thanks to Google Streetview, the route can also be previewed in real-time because a prepared driver makes a better one.
Need for practice
CARA’s research project was already launched in December 2019. More than 1 500 test drivers are involved. Currently, the project is still in a test phase. The development of the apps should be ready for the market by the end of this year.
In addition to various universities (Paris, Salzburg) and senior citizens’ organizations, CARA is also collaborating with the Belgian research organization F2S2 and driving school JESCO.
Manager of JESCO Scott Van Hooydonck: “If seniors using the app notice a lapse in their driving skills, they need to act. A driving school can help them to keep their skills accurate. It’s always a matter of practice.”
CARA is part of the Active Assisted Living program (AAL) funded by the European Commission. It addresses our aging society’s challenges and believes that connected technology can improve the seniors’ quality of life. By pushing forward a critical mass of research, AAL hopes to make the resulting products more attractive to the industry to be introduced faster.