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Teslas driven by seniors...

Once level 5 autonomy becomes reality, Teslas would be the car of choice for those unable to be safe drivers (children, blind people, seniors with dementia).

But for now, driving a Tesla is a full time job, especially with AP enabled. You have to be ready to instantly react to the unexpected.

Anyone have experience themselves, or with others, as to Teslas being too much to handle for seniors who might otherwise drive an ordinary car without a problem? Driving yourself is an imposed attention grabber; driving on AP certainly can lull you to inattention, and if you are predisposed to being unable to concentrate fully perhaps the current AP situation isn't ideal.
 
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ChadS

Last tank of gas: March 2009
Jul 16, 2009
3,471
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Redmond, WA
I understand the bit about possibly being lulled in to inattention on autopilot - but that doesn't seem to be an age-specific issue.

It sounds (?) like you are also saying that a Tesla without autopilot is more difficult to handle than an ICE. I don't understand that part. I know many older Tesla owners, and live in a 55+ community that has quite a few of them. I have never heard of any of them having any age-related difficulties with the car.

I also, back in 2015, was briefly a contractor helping deliver Teslas. I can only recall one person that had any issues driving the car; it was indeed an older gentleman...but his problems were problems with hearing warnings and feeling the difference between the brake and accelerator. He would have had the same problems with any car.
 
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aesculus

Still Trying to Figure This All Out
May 31, 2015
4,952
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It sounds (?) like you are also saying that a Tesla without autopilot is more difficult to handle than an ICE. I don't understand that part. I know many older Tesla owners, and live in a 55+ community that has quite a few of them. I have never heard of any of them having any age-related difficulties with the car.
I took it to mean that a Tesla being driven with AP on was more difficult than one with AP off or other cars without AP. But the way the OP worded it sounded like they thought Tesla's were more difficult than a ICE and even more so when AP was on. This could be true initially based on things like regen brakes, hill hold, how fast they are etc, but these are just things that need to be learned. Kind of like going from a stick to an automatic transmission.

But for now, driving a Tesla is a full time job, especially with AP enabled. You have to be ready to instantly react to the unexpected.
 
Any distraction is dangerous in a car, cute passenger, fiddling with media controls, reading your cellphone, etc. Those issues are independent of age.

Tesla’s autopilot is a driver safety feature, fewer accidents at the “cost” of driving within the rules (speed limits, lane markers, distance from the vehicle in front, etc).

Basically the Tesla Autopilot is a better driver than most humans, again, independent of age or mental acuity. Sadly I’ve seen more bad young drivers than bad old drivers. Both sets seem to drive vehicles with a number of dents....
 
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Snerruc

Unqualified Doofus
Apr 16, 2016
1,170
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Palm Bay
I’m 81 and have an S with fsd. I ve driven 900 miles in a Merc 550 with a co driver and no autopilot and 900 miles by myself in my car. I was much less tired after the solo drive in mine. Autopilot is a godsend for anyone regardless of age on long drives. I find many younger people have more trouble getting used to a Tesla than older people. We’re not dead or stupid, in fact,we might be smarter. We made it this far.
 
The OPs statement is out and out age discrimination. I know plenty of Tesla drivers who are seniors who’ve never been in an accident. Regrettably, I know some younger Tesla drivers who couldn’t drive a golf cart if they tried.

Although this is from 09, its much more sound than a simple anecdote.

https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/810853

OP is wrong, and so are you. People who have little experience driving are just as at risk of an incident as those who have 60 years of experience driving (but not anywhere inbetween). Infact, the fatality rate skyrockets in age groups 65+ in several other easy to google studies. I tried to find one without that since it stands to reason that their body being older and potentially less healthy just by age alone would contribute to that stat... HOWEVER, you could go further and argue that the OP is indeed correct, and seniors would do better to be in what is considered the safest vehicle on the road today.
 
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Once level 5 autonomy becomes reality, Teslas would be the car of choice for those unable to be safe drivers (children, blind people, seniors with dementia).

But for now, driving a Tesla is a full time job, especially with AP enabled. You have to be ready to instantly react to the unexpected.

Anyone have experience themselves, or with others, as to Teslas being too much to handle for seniors who might otherwise drive an ordinary car without a problem? Driving yourself is an imposed attention grabber; driving on AP certainly can lull you to inattention, and if you are predisposed to being unable to concentrate fully perhaps the current AP situation isn't ideal.
First of all what age do you consider to be a senior, there are many people out their at all ages that are clueless when driving. I see it everyday and just shake my head, I’m not a fan of full autonomy vehicles and would not want anyone driving one of these if they could not drive a normal car.
 
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DerbyDave

Active Member
Jul 2, 2020
2,893
1,717
Kentucky
I am older and have owned many very nice ICE cars in my life, like many here. I find driving the Tesla is harder on FSD than without. When it steers into the left turn lane on a 4 lane road where the NAV shows me going straight, I must try to figure out what the computer is doing, correct it, and try not to have the pickup with the horse trailer behind me hit me in the rear end. When I am driving down the road at 55, and the brakes suddenly apply hard, it is distracting and dangerous for drivers of any age. These are not infrequent occurences and can be duplicated generally in the same spots. I live in a rural area with one lane country roads in some places, and the car hardly can move on on these roads with any automation. ICE cars don't have these problems. I would love it if my car could stay in a lane, not hit the car or objects in front of me, and keep a safe speed. These things are difficult for a Tesla. Maybe I need to move to a big city or more urban area for the car to work as advertised.

Also, ICE cars generally don't have to be disassembled to jump start or replace the 12 volt battery ( and other similar chores and tricks Tesla owners must endure to maintain, secure, open, and drive their cars). The Tesla still amazes me at times, and I still have hope, but it is a very difficult car to drive reliably without extra attention when using the automation on anything but an interstate on a clear day.
 
Bottom Line: Tesla driver assist gives us safer trips. I use it primarily on the highway. Recent experience (no collision) suggests it can do better than I, with less distraction, in stop & go traffic. I maintain guarded confidence about the car's perception and judgement when it's assisting.

I'm a grandparent, past standard retirement age but still working. Driver assist - Enhanced AutoPilot (EAP) and eventual FSD - was my deciding factor for 2017 Tesla S 100D. My wife wanted a vehicle that didn't use fossil fuel. When she decided the S was more car than she wanted, we got her a Model 3 Stealth Performance, which she loves.

The S gets the job done for road trips.
  • I'm less fatigued when the car manages speed, lane position, follow distance and double-checks my lane change requests. I'm able to focus on the "long game" beyond the car's horizon. This includes traffic down the road, vehicles entering or exiting, trucks trying to change lanes or pass... I also verify that the car's understanding the road correctly and doing its tasks properly.
  • If highway traffic isn't "random" and we're between interchanges I can look away from the road or take my hands off the wheel for a few seconds at low risk. I can verify my wife's interpretation of the map, open my water bottle or hold the sandwich with two hands while taking a bite.
  • When EAP is active, we're far safer if my attention drifts or lapses.
My late father was an excellent driver with legendary endurance. Still, when he was in his 70s, he fell asleep at the wheel on a DC to Detroit highway trip with Mom. The car ran off the road into a field with minor damage. My parents were safe. That incident motivates me to use EAP on road trips.

My wife and I had to drive nearly 400 miles round-trip for our immunizations on Saturday a few weekends ago. EAP made it far less tiring. We were home for dinner near Philadelphia, planned to visit our daughter in DC on Sunday. When heavy snow was forecast for Sunday morning, we decided to leave Saturday evening. Again, EAP enhanced our safety on that leg.
 
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I find using AP on a trip makes me feel much safer, and more relaxed at the end. But I am wondering what folks think about the safety of AP for those who don’t have the ability to concentrate they once had. I’ve seen it in my own family members, who could drive just fine for a few years after cognitive decline began but probably wouldn’t be just fine using AP. An ICE car demands full concentration continuously; AP expects it. There’s a difference. The penalty for looking away for 30 seconds in an ICE car is likely disastrous; the penalty for looking away for 30 seconds in a Tesla on AP is likely none. With less incentive to concentrate, it takes self discipline to pay full attention. I’m just theorizing that at the very early stage of dementia (which can happen in your 70s, 80s, or maybe never) AP might not be as safe as it is for the rest of us.
 

Neon001

Member
May 12, 2019
312
695
Md
I do agree, however, that driving any vehicle, even a Tesla on autopilot, is a full time job, and the phone should be turned off.

"Turned off"? This is excessive. If you don't have enough bandwidth to drive a car and operate a phone with hands-free bluetooth enabled, I'm not sure you should be on the road at all. I'm not advocating reading a novel on Kindle while driving, even in stop-and-go traffic, but occasional glances at your phone can't possibly be worse than diverting your attention out your side window at whatever is happening at the moment.

OTOH, while FSD is in beta, I would imagine it would absolutely be more stressful and demanding of one's attention (not that I have it) than driving without. It's like side-seating a car with a teenage driver...
 
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DavidB

2010 Roadster Sport || 2013 S85 || 2017 X100D
Supporting Member
Jul 8, 2013
924
1,219
Silver Spring, MD
"Turned off"? This is excessive.
You should never look at your phone while driving. Never. If you have trouble following that rule, turn off the phone and put it in the back (out of reach).

Why? Time yourself when you read a text (while parked, please)—from when you take your eyes off the road, focus on the phone, read the text, put the phone down, and refocus on the road. Don't forget to add time for how long it takes your brain to process the new visual information. Even a simple text will take over 3 seconds. When driving 65 mph, you will have driven over a football field in distance. A long text might take half a minute — over half a mile! You could easily cause a serious accident by not keeping your eyes on the road.
 
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Wol747

Active Member
Aug 26, 2017
1,666
1,008
Tea Gardens
>>I do think one needs to be careful with Teslas if accidentally pressing the accelerator hard due to how quick the car is. This is true regardless of age.<<

True: I put my foot on the floor when waiting at a junction for a gap in the traffic - the slightest accidental nudge on the accelerator could propel you into the road before you've even thought about it!
 

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