Self-Driving Cars Not in the Equation for Baby Boomers

Self-driving cars are quickly becoming a reality for some people, with many automakers designing and test driving their self-driving cars on the roadways already. While it seems like people should be happy about the prospect of self-driving cars, one group of people are not very inclined to buy these self-driving cars and have many apprehensions about them. The group that seems to not be interested at all in the self-driving car possibilities are baby boomers, who see self-driving cars as something unsafe and unreliable. This study is showing that the appeal of these self-driving cars does in fact range depending on the age of the driver, which could hurt the automakers when they become fully available.

Self-Driving Car Baby Boomer Concerns

For some of the baby boomers out there, the concern is that people have enough issues trying to drive a regular car itself, especially in traffic-crushing areas like Los Angeles. In particular the concerns come from what if something happened, such as an earthquake or other natural disaster? Self-driving cars are basically robots and use computers to run, so it would be difficult to know how these cars would react in certain situations that cannot be accounted for.

Self Driving Cars

A new study also came out from the Hartford Insurance Company and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, which shows most older adults are not willing to adapt or purchase the new self-driving car technologies. A lot of the older adults, considered baby boomers, fear the features including adaptive cruise control and parking-assist. The parking-assist feature in self-driving cars basically puts the car into a parking spot by itself. The cruise control feature will modify the speed of the car automatically based on the speed of a car it is following. These features along with other aspects of self-driving cars make the older generations more hesitant to trust the technologies because it cannot account for human error or disasters. The baby boomers also feel that this is just making people to reliant on the technology and this is a bad thing for people in general.

In fact, the survey showed only 31 percent of people ages 50 to 69 who drove would even consider purchasing a self-driving car. This was based on if the self-driving car was the same price as a regular car, and shows just how little the older generation believes in this self-driving technology. When you looked at Generation Y in the J.D. Power survey, which is people 22 to 35, they were the group that was the most enthused about the self-driving cars and the ability for cars to handle driving functions by itself. Generation X were in the middle according to the survey, which is the group of people who are ages 36 to 50.


A lot of the technologies do already appear in the regular modern cars of today, including features such as blind-spot monitors and lane-keeping features that automatically can correct course if a person is about to go off the road. Even automatic brakes that can sense a collision coming and apply the brakes without the human behind the wheel doing it are features that cars today have. While some of these features already are present in cars, a fully-autonomous car is not expected to hit the markets for consumers until 2020.

What the baby boomer generation does not see though, is that these self-driving cars can come in handy for those who are getting older, and can help the person drive longer. When you get older, your coordination and strength goes away, which makes it harder to change lanes and look before doing so, and older drivers have problems with blind-spots and lane-departure signals. Since baby boomers make up 37.1 percent of the car buyers in the country, it is important they understand and get this new self-driving car technology, as they are the biggest buyers of cars out there at any given time. While it will be a while before self-driving cars make it onto the showroom floor, this study proves that older people are still hesitant to purchase these fully-autonomous types of cars because of lack of understanding about the technologies.




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Jeanne Rose
Jeanne Rose lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has been a freelance writer since 2010. She took Allied Health in vocational school where she earned her CNA/PCA, and worked in a hospital for 3 years. Jeanne enjoys writing about science, health, politics, business, and other topics as well.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I’ll be 67 next month and first in line to buy when self-driving cars become available. Since when have “Baby Boomers” (I hate the term) ever been afraid of anything? Live fast – die later! Rock ‘N’ Roll Forever!

  2. >The group that seems to not be interested at all in the self-driving car
    possibilities are baby boomers, who see self-driving cars as something
    unsafe and unreliable.

    Funny that is exactly how I view Boomers while voting

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