What’s new with old drivers?

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Where’s my Uber?

A front page story in the Boston Globe (No longer in the driver’s seat; for elders, giving up the keys comes with a cost: giving up their freedom) is one that could have been written any time over the past 30 years or so. In fact, the same story has been written many times, which makes me wonder why the Globe bothered publishing it again now.

It’s a 29-paragraph article, and only in paragraphs 26 and 27 do we see any reference to ride share apps. Even then, it’s done dismissively:

These days, technology offers car-less seniors more options, freeing those who can pay for rides from depending on neighbors. Unlike past generations, seniors relinquishing licenses are a mouse click away from delivery or ride-sharing services.

But in remote settings, ride-sharing services can be harder to access, and family and friends often pick up the slack.

That really misses the point. The line about “those who can pay for rides” implies that Uber and Lyft are luxury services. Actually, for people who don’t drive that many miles –which is the population we’re talking about– taking a ride share service as needed will be a lot cheaper than owning a car, paying for insurance, maintenance, parking, etc. So almost by definition,  ride share services are affordable to seniors who would otherwise be driving.

Uber and Lyft are all over the place (there are not that many “remote settings” in the Boston area). But sure, I guess that affects some people.

I’ve been impressed that even non-tech savvy people, like my 80+ year old relative are able to summon Uber and Lyft successfully.

Cars themselves are getting easier and safer for the elderly to drive. Fully autonomous vehicles are still a few years in the future, but plenty of modern cars have features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane keeping assistance, and rear cross traffic warning that help older drivers compensate for declines in physical and mental capacity.

Those get no mention in the article.

It’s also worth pointing out that elderly drivers are not that big of a threat to the public. They drive fewer miles, wear seatbelts, and are generally mellow behind the wheel. Inevitably, some die. Part of the reason is that older people are more frail, and more likely to die in an accident that a younger person would survive.

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

 

 

February 25, 2020

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