Older drivers value safety tech over autonomy or ride-sharing: Munich Re

Published: March 15, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Nearly half of older drivers say they would not be happy in an autonomous vehicle, according to a recent survey by Munich Re. The United States-based study also found that older drivers put more importance on active safety features over pure autonomous capabilities.

“Older drivers are increasingly comfortable with and recognize the benefits of active safety technology, but they are still reluctant to relinquish total control to an autonomous vehicle,” note results of the online survey from Munich Re, conducted in co-ordination with Google.

Munich Re used Google Consumer Surveys for the study between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2016. The insurance and reinsurance company says the survey used a validated, representative sample of 1,001 respondents aged 65 and older.

The company says 49% of people asked said they would be uncomfortable in a vehicle that is fully autonomous, meaning operational without any driver or steering wheel. 53% says they are not interested in ride-sharing companies such as Uber. A defining factor behind the responses is older drivers prefer to drive themselves.

While autonomy and ride-sharing does not interest drivers over 65, most are excited about some technology. Specifically, 63% say the intend to purchase their next vehicle with active safety technology.

“Of those surveyed, 44% said they would be willing to pay more for a vehicle with active safety features if the added cost is less than $5,000,” the company statement adds.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) reports there will be more than 40 million drivers on the road in the 65 and older age group by 2020, notes the Munich Re statement.

“Drivers over age 65 are currently one of the fastest-growing demographic groups in the U.S. and are more susceptible to accidents given the challenges they face such as declining vision, decreased flexibility and slower reflexes,” it says of the NHSTA report.

“Active vehicle safety technology has the potential to reduce crashes in any age group, but may offer specific benefits for older drivers,” says Mike Scrudato, head of the Mobility Domain at Munich Re, U.S.

“For example, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that rear cameras had the biggest benefit for drivers aged 70 and older, reducing the back-up crash rate by 40% compared with 15% for drivers younger than 70 years old,” Scrudato reports.

“Autonomous vehicle technology has the ability to transform the U.S. transportation ecosystem,” Scrudato says.

“While widespread adoption may still be some years away, this technology carries a variety of opportunities and potential risk exposures that governments, regulators and the insurance industry must begin to prepare for now,” he maintains.

SOURCE: https://www.munichre.com/en/homepage/index.html