Self-Driving Cars and Older Adults

Posted by on June 1, 2012

Nevada has approved a test of Google’s autonomous cars!  That might seem to be a weird thing to post on my Undercover Pastor blog, but I pastored a congregation with a lot of older adults for eight years.

Losing one’s driver’s license is a big deal.  It means a loss of independence.  Jesus described Peter’s coming martyrdom in language that might seem familiar to a lot of seniors:

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.  – John 21:18.

Some people avoid the driving test even when they know they’re having trouble because of the implications of giving up that license.

I think this is a perfect use for self-driving cars!  Most trips that people in their 80’s and 90’s seem to want to make are short trips to places like the grocery store, church, library, hair stylist, medical appointment, a friend’s place, etc.

Sure, these cars are supposed to reduce accidents (a recent study showed momentary distraction to be the cause of most accidents).  But they could dramatically improve the quality of life for a growing demographic – people whose minds are still sharp and who can still live on their own but who don’t see as well as they used to.  I look forward to this expansion of the horizons of older adults.

Traditionally, older adults have not been early adopters of technology, but the stakes are high here, and I think they just might surprise everyone!

What do you think?  Post a comment below!

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