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Autonomous cars and older New York drivers

The first members of the baby boom generation are turning 70 in 2016, and government data indicates that there will likely be more than 50 million at or over that age around the country by 2050. Older road users are less able to recover from serious car accident injuries, and their chances of being killed in a crash increase as they age. Road safety experts and legislators across the country hope that emerging auto safety technology may drastically cut collision rates in the decades ahead and prevent a sharp increase in the number of elderly car accident victims.

Modern automobiles already boast an impressive array of safety equipment ranging from dual-stage airbags to sophisticated anti-lock braking systems, but it is more recent autonomous vehicle technology that most impresses safety experts. Reaction times are far slower among senior citizen drivers, but many of the latest safety systems take over the driving duties automatically in emergency situations and apply the brakes or steer around obstacles to avoid a crash.

Car makers have already announced that automatic braking systems will be standard equipment on virtually all passenger vehicles sold in the United States by 2022, and Google says that it will bring a fully autonomous car to the market by 2020. For those who cannot wait, Tesla's autopilot system is the most sophisticated autonomous technology currently available.

In addition to avoiding crashes and keeping their occupants alive, autonomous systems may also provide law enforcement and insurance investigators with crucial information about what transpired in the seconds before a collision. This is because these systems feature an array of sensors and cameras that constantly monitor road conditions, and the data recorded could also be used by personal injury attorneys to establish culpability in lawsuits brought on behalf of car accident victims.

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