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Canadian seniors poised to lead the autonomous vehicle revolution

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Traffic Injury Research Foundation submits new research results to House of Commons Standing Committee’s “Automated and Connected Vehicles in Canada” study

Ottawa, October 31, 2018 – New research conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) suggests senior drivers in Canada could play a leadership role in the safe adoption of semi-automated vehicles as Canadian roadways transition from traditional vehicles to increasingly automated vehicles. The study, funded by the Toyota Canada Foundation, analyzed data from a survey regarding the knowledge, attitudes and practices of 2,662 Canadians as well as focus groups with senior drivers. Results were summarized in written testimony that was submitted in response to a call for submissions to the “Automated and Connected Vehicles in Canada” study being conducted by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities of the House of Commons.

The TIRF study was conducted to better understand the perceptions and attitudes of senior drivers towards semi-automated vehicles, and to understand how their knowledge and beliefs can influence the likelihood they will rely on this technology to improve their safety on the road and increase their mobility.

Results of the study showed that senior drivers recognize the potential of semi-automated vehicles to keep them on the roads longer and safer. “Our findings were surprising and showed that older drivers are actually quite receptive to using semi-automated vehicles,” said Robyn Robertson, President and CEO of TIRF. “This seems counter-intuitive as the adoption of a new technology is typically more associated with a young demographic.”

Given their receptivity to learning about automated vehicles and their disinclination to engage in risky driving behaviours, researchers concluded that senior drivers could lead the semi-automated vehicle revolution, if certain conditions are met. With this in mind, several recommendations were formulated for the Standing Committee’s consideration, including:

  • The creation of educational opportunities about semi-automated vehicles for senior drivers;
  • Focus education on safety and performance of semi-automated vehicles;
  • Emphasize privacy and cyber security safeguards;
  • Tailor delivery of education to the needs of senior drivers, for example by making sure opportunities for practical learning are provided.

Canadians aged 65 years and older currently represent one in seven Canadians. In the next two decades, the population of seniors will grow to more than 10 million and will account for one in four Canadians. As one of the largest age cohorts, older adults will represent a significant segment of the driving population.

Senior drivers are among the safest drivers because of their accumulated years of driving experience and exposure to all types of road environments and conditions. “It appears that senior drivers are poised to lead the transformation of our country’s vehicle fleet,” says Toyota Canada Foundation board member, Larry Hutchinson. “They possess important characteristics that make them ideal candidates for safe early adoption of this technology.”

Hutchinson concluded: “The TIRF study shows that seniors’ ability to adapt to a new vehicle and road environment could help to set standards regarding education and skills that drivers of all ages should possess to safely use increasingly automated vehicles. However, to benefit from this, some important barriers must be considered. Our hope is that the House Committee will consider the recommendations formulated in the TIRF study.”

The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities of the House of Commons primarily studies the legislation, policies and programs, and other issues of national importance related to transportation, infrastructure, and Canadian cities and communities as well as the operations of Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada. They are currently conducting an “Automated and Connected Vehicles in Canada” study and have called for submissions from interested parties.

Download House Brief on Senior Drivers & Automated Vehicles: Knowledge, Attitudes & Practices

Download Senior Drivers & Automated Vehicles: Knowledge, Attitudes & Practices 

Download Senior Drivers & Automated Vehicles: Knowledge, Attitudes & Practices Executive Summary 

Download Seniors as Safe Early Adopters of Self-Driving Vehicle Technology – Infographic  

About the Traffic Injury Research Foundation:
Established in 1964, TIRF’s mission is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries. As a national, independent, charitable road safety research institute, TIRF designs, promotes, and implements effective programs and policies, based on sound research. TIRF is a registered Canadian charity and depends on grants, contracts, and donations to provide services to the public. Visit us online at www.tirf.ca, Twitter and Facebook.

About the Toyota Canada Foundation: 
The Toyota Canada Foundation is a private charitable foundation focused on supporting registered charitable organizations dedicated to STEM education outreach and teaching Canadians how to use the advanced safety technology in their vehicles.

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For further information, please contact:

Karen Bowman
Traffic Injury Research Foundation
Director, Marketing & Communications
613-238-5235 (office)
Email: karenb@tirf.ca
1-877-238-5235 (toll-free)

Michael Bouliane
Manager, Communications
Toyota Canada Foundation
michael_bouliane@toyota.ca