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Study finds auto tech can be a risk for senior drivers

Many new cars on the road are equipped with some of the latest technology. From rearview cameras to motion sensors, auto tech has come a long way. However, how much tech is too much tech?

“The problem that we face is not just Idaho, but across the country, is this growing trend of distracted driving,” said Matthew Conde, public and government affairs director for AAA.

2017 was a record-breaking year. Distracted driving was linked to 4,800 crashes resulting in 39 deaths.

At Cole Chevrolet in Pocatello, Jeremy Williams, an auto-tech & tech specialist, says newer technology helps drivers stay safe on the road.

“We’ve got traction control, collision avoidance, lane-keep assist, all kinds of technology to keep us safe on the road and minimize driver distractions,” Williams said.

One of their most popular features is the teen-driver-mode. It helps parents monitor the way their children drive.

“You can monitor how far did they drive, how fast did they go, how many times did they go over the speed limit.”

Many new cars on the road are equipped with in-vehicle information systems. It’s a system that allows drivers to talk, text, navigate and even send emails through cars. New research put out by AAA says these features are distracting to drivers, especially senior drivers.

“We really see a missed opportunity the way these systems are designed today. Unfortunately, the things that could be helping them to be safe and effective and extend their driving years are coming along with a lot of unnecessary distractions,” Conde said.

A new study shows older drivers experience higher levels of cognitive and visual demand. The study found that seniors took nearly eight seconds longer to perform a task through auto technology. This includes things like voice-activation phone calls and texts, as well as finding navigation.

“Unfortunately, now we’re seeing too much of a trade-off between convenience and safety. It can be a frustrating collection of complicated actions that can be especially counterproductive for our seniors trying to extend their driving years,” said Conde.

AAA says auto-braking and blind spot detection are great strides in auto technology and safety. However, the company hopes automakers will review their research and make necessary changes for safer driving.

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