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Smart in-vehicle technologies can improve the comfort and safety of driving for older adults

Classen S, Jeghers M, Morgan-Daniel J, Winter S, King L, Struckmeyer L. Smart in-vehicle technologies and older drivers: A scoping review OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health. 2019; 39(2): 97-107.

Review question

      What is the impact of in-vehicle information systems and advanced driver assistance systems on the driving of adults 65 years of age or older?


      By 2020, it is estimated that 40 million (18%) of United States (U.S.) license holders will be above age 65. This is a 50% increase in older drivers over two decades.

      In 2015, over 6,800 U.S. older drivers died and more than 260,000 received emergency room treatment due to motor vehicle crashes. Although older drivers’ increased risk for motor vehicle injury or death stems from age-related factors, many do not refrain from driving.

      For the most part, this is because the mobility afforded by driving is associated with life satisfaction, quality of life, autonomy, and well-being. Conversely, driving cessation is associated with poor health trajectories, including increased depression rates, limited mobility, and premature death.

      As the global population ages, finding a way to reduce crash-related injuries and death becomes increasingly important.

      Emerging in-vehicle automation technologies such as in-vehicle information systems (IVIS) and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) have the potential to enhance older drivers’ convenience, comfort, and safety while reducing crash risk.

      IVIS includes functions like lane departure warning, providing alerts to drivers about surrounding road conditions. ADAS are integrated systems that interact with drivers to assist with vehicle control in high-risk situations.

      The aim of this scoping review is to examine the impact of these technologies on the driving of older adults.

How the review was done

      Study authors conducted a search of 16 research databases for English language studies published between 2007 and 2017.

      Search terms were generally related to driving, older adults, and in-vehicle automation systems.

      A total of 748 articles were retrieved from the initial search, of which 28 were included in this review.

      This research was funded by the American Automobile Association (AAA). No conflicts of interest were declared.

What the researchers found

      Overall, study authors found that IVIS or ADAS enhanced safety and reduced the negative effects of age-related declines.

      It was found that IVIS can reduce the cognitive workload of the driver while ADAS enhanced safety and comfort by increasing speed control, lane maintenance, and braking responses.

      Active steering and brake assist were found to decrease appropriate stress levels, increase safety, and increase comfort of the driving task.

      Authors found that GPS with auditory instructions reduced cognitive workload for drivers with mild Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, the complex interface of the technology also had the negative effect of causing older drivers to become distracted, compromising driving safety.


      This provided an overview of the impact of IVIS and ADAS on the comfort and safety of driving for older drivers. Positive impacts found for ADAS included speed control, lane maintenance, braking responses, and decreased reaction time. Challenges of IVIS included increased cognitive workload, which compromised driving safety.

      As IVIS and ADAS technology develops, car manufacturers must be careful to tailor the combination of technologies in any particular vehicle to the cognitive abilities of each older driver.

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DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (

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