Washington, DC– The majority of Hispanics participating in a recent poll agreed that, if affordable and safe, autonomous, or driverless cars, could improve their lives or the lives of others in their families. The poll, carried out by the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), gathered information on autonomous cars from participants representing 13 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
“NHCOA implemented the poll because of the impact autonomous cars could have on Hispanic older adults, given this population’s growth over the coming decades,” said NHCOA President and CEO Dr. Yanira Cruz. “This technology really holds promise for this population. Every day, we hear seniors talking about the difficulty in accessing transportation for such day-to-day needs as grocery shopping, accessing health services or participating in a social event. Isolation due to the lack of transportation can contribute to poor health among seniors, including depression.”
One of the survey participants echoed these ideas, saying, “Autonomous cars represent an opportunity for older adults and people with limited mobility to improve their lives and gain independence.”
The value of autonomous cars was recognized even though 72.53% of survey participants indicated that they lived in areas that are mass transit accessible, with only 27.47% not having access to mass transit. Survey participants were also concerned about safety. More than half of those who participated in the survey, or 53.85%, said that they thought that they were at higher risk of being involved in car accidents.
“As an engineer I appreciate how impressive and complicated autonomous vehicles are,” said Rep. Tony Cárdenas (CA-29). “There are many good reasons why we should approve their use. When I think of seniors that can regain their independence, I can’t wait to see them on the road. As a Congressman, I know that it is important to make sure that they are safe.” Rep. Cárdenas is one of three engineers on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, and also the only Latino Member on this subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over consumer protection and motor vehicle safety issues.
Participants in the NHCOA survey also expressed concerns about their affordability. Overall, however, 70.33% of survey participants believed that autonomous cars could improve the quality of their lives if they were affordable, safe and available, while 67.03% believed that they could improve the quality of life for someone in their family.
“The NHCOA poll shows growing excitement as progress continues on driverless cars that have the potential to improve older Americans’ ability to connect with their community,” said Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03). “As this technology moves forward, it is important that we recognize the potential positive impact this will have on our seniors, particularly the growing Hispanic community. We must ensure that their voices are part of the discussion as Congress, the Administration, and the private sector work together to develop safe and reliable driverless cars.”