A survey by the US National Council on Aging (NCOA) and Volkswagen Group of America  found that 70% of older adults said self-driving vehicles and ride hailing services would allow them to remain independent and mobile and expect to take advantage of them now and in the future.

Approximately 70% of respondents said they trusted SDRH services, felt confident they could enhance their safety, and believed such services could help them achieve tasks outside the home and do the things they want in life.

“Technology will play a key role in addressing challenges faced by older adults who are no longer able to drive,” said NCOA senior director Kathleen Cameron. “The five most important aspects of SDRH services for older adults are safety, quality of service, convenience, traffic, and overall comfort of riding in the vehicle.”

Three-quarters of respondents said they expected to use SDHR technology in the future and 71% agreed it would help them maintain their independence.

Older adults often outlive their decision to stop driving by about 10 years for women and seven years for men. The decision to stop driving is usually due to declining vision, physical, and cognitive abilities or the use of medications that impair driving.

Non-driving older adults need alternative transport to go to doctor’s appointments, shop, and engage in activities that keep them socially connected, like attending religious services, visiting friends and family, and enjoying entertainment. Caregivers most often provide this transport. In some parts of the US, public transport, taxis, and ride hailing services like Uber may be options for older adults. However, in many rural areas, these alternatives are not available.

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Technology can play an important role in addressing these challenges. Today, many in-car technologies support the driver by performing parts of the driving task, and soon, cars will become so advanced they will be able to support the driving task entirely from start to end. Self-driving ride-hailing services, such as self-driving taxis, Ubers or Lyfts, or public transit shuttles also could be a solution for older adults.