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AARP Survey: Boomers Like Car Tech

New research finds that older drivers are less eager for self-driving cars

2018 Chrysler Pacifica


A look at the touch screen inside the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica.

Boomers famously embraced car culture when sporty Mustangs, Corvettes, Camaros and Beetles captured their imagination. Decades later, boomers still love to drive — 78 percent said they see it as key to their independence — and while they are enthusiastic about new car technology, they are not ready to wholly embrace self-driving cars, according to AARP Auto research released today. 

In a survey of just over 1,500 U.S. adults who owned or leased cars, AARP found that 41 percent of boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are willing to pay extra for the latest car-technology features and most feel these new features make driving either more enjoyable or safer. That includes features such as blind spot awareness, forward collision warnings, GPS and lane-change safety alerts, as well as back-up cameras and voice controls. When asked about their ideal car, 78 percent said they would prefer a standard vehicle over a self-driving car, compared with 66 percent of millennials, more of whom said they like that a self-driving car would allow them to multitask.

"Boomers want to be in charge of the driving," says Katherine Zorn, AARP's auto digital platform director. "They look at driving as something that gives them a tremendous sense of freedom, and they have so many great memories of road trips and adventures."  In fact, 57 percent said they believe they will drive the rest of their lives.

Drivers of all ages are confident about their superior skills behind the wheel, the research showed. About 80 percent of all those surveyed said they consider themselves “a better driver than most people I know,” while about 60 percent said they often wish they could give other people driving advice. 

More boomer attitudes about their cars and driving:

  • 85 percent said they don't trust other drivers on the road.
  • 77 percent said their car brings them happiness.
  • 27 percent answered at least 5 out of 7 car-maintenance questions correctly (only 19 percent of Gen Xers and 16 percent of millennials did so).
  • 75 percent say that driving is an opportunity for “me time,” and that they get a lot of good thinking done while driving. 
  • 87 percent consider their car a better place to sing than their shower.

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