Our sister publications — the Wicked Local sites in Massachusetts — are hosting the Best Years Expo at the home of the New England Patriots this Saturday, Nov. 7, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. The Expo is highlighting senior driving with a few guests this year.
Ford Motor Company is sending along its Third Age Suit, an engineering development from Ford Europe in 1999 that was designed to help Ford better understand the needs of senior drivers. Ford worked with the University of Loughborough in England for engineers to simulate the agility of drivers in their 70s and beyond.
“We developed this suit to show our engineers and designers what it feels like to be an older person,” said Vivek Bhise, manager, Human Factors and Ergonomics for Ford. “When you are young, you think you’re designing for everybody, but you really don’t understand the range of people and their limitations.”
Ford uses the Third Age Suit as an “empathy tool,” to help engineers and designers understand how aging can impact not just driving, but the physical acts of getting in and out of the car, or even opening a door.
Also on hand at the Best Years Expo will be our pal, AAA Car Doctor John Paul, who you read regularly right here at BestRide. John is a certified mechanic and is the public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, but he also tirelessly communicates with older drivers, visiting senior centers to help seniors understand their challenges, and how the automotive industry, state governments and senior advocacy groups are working together to help seniors stay safe on the road.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), a total of 4,115 people ages 70 and older died in motor vehicle crashes in 2013. Despite drivers over 70 keeping their driver’s licenses longer than ever, and driving more miles than ever, the continued focus on older driver safety has resulted in a 30 percent drop in fatalities since 1997. The rate of fatalities per capita among older people has decreased 47 percent since 1975 and is now at its lowest level, according to the IIHS.
Nevertheless, the number of highway deaths are second only to teen drivers, suggesting that there’s still work to be done. Beginning at age 70, death rates for seniors climb noticeably.
New technologies that help prevent crashes are can help drivers of all ages. For example, electronic stability control has been proven highly effective in reducing single-vehicle fatal crashes. Forward crash mitigation systems with automatic braking, which are also responsible for a reduction in insurance claims, may also prove to be highly effective for seniors. But seniors also need to be aware of these technologies so that they can choose vehicles wisely, and understand what these systems are meant to do.
Wicked Local is partnering with WCVB5 and MeTV, targeting the event to people aged 50+. The event features information on living life to the fullest after 50, featuring local companies offering free tips on aging more successfully. Inspirational speakers include Dick Hoyt who ran 72 marathons and competed in 255 triathlons with his son Rick Hoyt, who has cerebral palsy and competes in a wheelchair. Also on hand is actor Henry Winkler, known around the world as the Fonz. There’s also a classic car show as part of the event. The expo is FREE and open to the public with free parking and free entertainment.
Visit the Best Years Expo at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts this Saturday, November 7, from 10 am to 5 pm. For more information, visit the Best Years Expo website.