Older Men First Adopters of Automated Travel Technology

Study First of Its Kind in Canada

Old dogs don’t like new tricks. Don’t say that to older male drivers in Canada. According to a recent study**, men over 50 are the drivers most agreeable to having an automated vehicle (AV) chauffeur them about.

For researchers, the findings were eye-opening and unanticipated. “When fully autonomous vehicles are available, drivers over 50 years old would be more willing to own and drive them for commuting, men in particular,” says the study’s author Masha Ghaffari, a graduate student at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering.

At the other end of the spectrum, drivers with children were found to be less eager to jump on – or in this case, into – the automated vehicle bandwagon. Concerns were also raised about how AVs will react to unexpected traffic situations and handle in various weather conditions.

The results are relevant for another reason. This is the first study of its kind in Canada to measure attitudes toward automated vehicles. Ghaffari’s findings also revealed that a majority of drivers are inclined to accept AVs to some degree, “based on perceived benefit, cost, and convenience, as well as various levels of automation.”

Ghaffari initially set out to determine how willing drivers would be to give up control – for many an anathema – to a driverless car. Travel technology and innovation is just around the corner and could soon revolutionize commuting, vacation and pretty much anything else we do with our transportation.

Of the 485 men and women over age 18 surveyed in Calgary and Edmonton, drivers with the longest driving experience were the most open to full or semi-autonomous vehicles. It also bears noting that drivers who indicated they enjoyed driving or acknowledged they were aggressive behind the wheel, were more hesitant to give up control to an AV.

In the final analysis, the majority of survey respondents were surprisingly positive about the concept of driverless cars in the relatively near future. 81 percent of participants are willing “to a very high degree” to let a computer choose their routes, 43 percent are willing to acquiesce control of lane usage, and 40 percent aren’t concerned about ceding speed control.

Old dogs and older men…someday soon we’ll see them both sticking their heads into the wind as their car cruises effortlessly down the highway.

**Study conducted by the Urban Alliance in conjunction with the AMA/AITF Smart Multimodal Transportation Systems strategic fund.
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