Age shouldn’t slow anyone down. In America, 80 percent of people over the age of 65 live in vehicle-dependent suburbs.
“Transportation is always a huge barrier for our aging population,” says Tom Egan, President and CEO of the Foundation for Senior Living, a Phoenix-based nonprofit organization devoted to improving the quality of life for seniors and people with disabilities by providing programming, transportation, and affordable housing.
He says transportation will be more and more important as the senior population skyrockets nationwide. The year 2025 will be the first time there are more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 18. Additionally, the number of people over the age of 100 is rapidly increasing.
However, Egan emphasizes that 90 percent of people want to stay in their own homes, yet many of them are losing the ability to drive while also living in car-dependent communities.
As the population grows, so will the need for more transportation for seniors.
“We have to come up with technology interventions and applications of the new technologies to help all those people,” Egan emphasizes.
In 2017, Foundation for Senior Living joined Let’s Talk Self-Driving, a Waymo-led public education campaign bringing together a diverse set of communities and interests with a shared belief that self-driving technology can save lives, improve independence and create new mobility options.
Foundation for Senior Living is committed to improving the quality of life for seniors and believes that self-driving technology could enable everyone, regardless of age, to get around safely and keep their independence.
Egan says there are promising, innovative solutions. He believes Foundation for Senior Living – and the entire population the foundation serves – can benefit from fully self-driving technology and be on the leading edge of adopting it.
“I think self-driving has a tremendous impact, not just for the senior, but also the person who’s taking care of them,” Egan says. Fully self-driving cars have the potential to take people safely from place to place without anyone needing to drive.
Waymo’s fully self-driving technology is constantly vigilant and can see up to three football fields away, 360 degrees day or night, and is designed to be a cautious, defensive driver. Self-driving cars don’t get distracted, drunk, or text while driving.
Egan emphasizes that the senior population can be leaders in the adoption of new technologies, adding that many seniors are much more open to innovation than they sometimes receive credit for.
“I think it’s a little bit of a misnomer with an aging population that they’re not going to adopt the technology,” Egan says.
Egan explains that it’s more than just driving people around: it’s about helping people live life to the fullest.
“Being able to have access to reliable, safe, dignified transportation is an absolute game-changer for our senior population.”