Cooley On Cars
Top 5: Tech to help your parents drive safelyCNET's Brian Cooley tells you about the top 5 car technologies you should nudge your parents to get.
[MUSIC] You're parents and driving. As they get passed their 60s, they begin to get a lot less good at it. Now that concept's nothing new, but technologies that can help are. I'm Brian Cooley with the top five car technologies that you might wanna nudge your folks to consider when they buy their next car. Number five is failing to yield. Failing to yield at an intersection or blowing a stop or a red light is charged in some 37% of elder accidents. But I rank this low, because technology to help a lot is still pending. That would be vehicle-to-vehicle communication that will let cars signal each other to avoid a collision. The US government is set to launch rules, likely in 2014, but it wouldn't be in cars for several years after that. Meantime, remind dad it doesn't matter who had the right of way. [SOUND] The real win is not getting into a crash. [SOUND] Number four, inattentiveness or lost in thought. Definitely the most poetically described thing I've ever seen in government research. It's not a huge portion of driver distraction. Most older drivers actually don't drive distracted. But now we do have tech from Ford, Mercedes, BMW and Volvo to detect and alert driver drowsiness. What we are missing still is something to get inside the head of drivers, old or otherwise, and just refocus their attention when they're wide awake. Number three, side impacts. Left and right side hits amount to about 30% of all elder crashes when sorted by impact angle. Two technologies can help here. The first is passive or active blind spot technology. Now if it's passive, make sure the warning lights are big and visible, like I find in Audis. If mom and dad seem to always be cutting off, let's say a bike on the right hand side. Then look into Honda's cars that have a camera that looks down the right side of the vehicle when you signal that way. My second tech tip is kinda low tech. It's a car that has clean sight lines out the A pillars. These are the ones that hold up the front of the windshield. Now there are big differences in these between cars. Generally, the more sloped and thicker the A pillar, the more stuff you can completely lose behind it. Until it's too late. Number two, rear end collisions. This is a big one for older drivers. A few years ago mom and dad would have had to been fairly monied to get technology help here. Today no longer the case. It's not just Volvos, Mercedes, and Infinitis who have forward collision tech. Look at Subaru's EyeSight, a great example of an affordable car with camera tech that can sense a forward collision. And break all the way down to a dead stop if need be, to prevent a rear-ender. And it works at closing speed deltas of up to 19 miles per hour, which is quite a bit. Before we get you to number one, evidence that 60 really is the new 50. Drivers in their 60s are actually not involved in a lot more accidents with other cars. In fact, they're less involved than people in their teens and 20s. Now, it's the 70s and 80s where things get rough, and drivers over 80 have five times the accident risk, compared to people in their 40s and 50s. That's the red zone. [SOUND] The number one place where tech can help your folks is backing up. Whether their necks are too stiff to turn around and look, or their eyes are too bad to see anything if they do. Backing up is a problem for old folks, adding up to some 23% of crash impact points. A rear-cam in their car is a must. Now they are likely to become required on new cars in a couple of years, but they already show up on most new cars already. So this will be one less argument you have to have when your parent says, oh I don't need that, yes you do. In the meantime, convince them that they have to have it, and a surround camera option might not hurt either. But I find the display zones on those tend to be awfully small. That rear cam is the big one. Know all about high tech cars and modern driving by visiting us at CnetOnCars.com. I'm Brian Cooley. [MUSIC]