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New Research From The Hartford And MIT AgeLab Shows Significant Number Of Adults Concerned About Parents' Driving Abilities

December 3, 2010

Consumer Markets

AARP, The Hartford and MIT AgeLab offer new online seminar to help families prepare to talk with older drivers

HARTFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- With the number of drivers 70 and older increasing — and one in five Americans caring for an older loved one — the number of adults dealing with concerns about their parents' driving abilities is on the rise. In fact, according to a new survey from The Hartford and MIT AgeLab, almost 1 in 10 adults are worried about an older family member's driving.

To help families prepare for and initiate thoughtful conversations with older drivers, AARP, The Hartford and MIT AgeLab teamed up to produce "We Need to Talk," a free online course that equips family members with information about the emotional connection to driving, observing driving skills and planning the conversation.

"We understand that talking to a parent about their driving can be very difficult," said Jodi Olshevski, gerontologist at The Hartford. "If you're worried, you should find out if your concerns are valid. Learn the warning signs, get in the car and observe the older driver. Once you get the facts and educate yourself about the resources available, you will be in a better position to help."

The new survey also found that:

  • Adults 40-49 are the age group most concerned about an older family member's driving.
  • Of those concerned, more than 33 percent have not shared their concerns with the older driver.
  • The primary reasons cited for not having the conversation are:
    • Concern that the older driver will have a negative reaction (53 percent).
    • Unsure of how to raise the issue (43 percent).
    • Unsure of transportation alternatives (20 percent).

"Taking time to prepare can alleviate these concerns and help initiate a thoughtful, positive conversation," said Julie Lee, director of AARP's Driver Safety Program. "‘We Need to Talk' helps families think through who the right messenger is, when the right time to talk might be and provides some conversation starters. It also covers how to design a transportation plan that provides the driver with alternatives for getting around."

Driving behavior warning signs vary. Some of the less serious issues may be overcome with changes in driving behavior or physical fitness, while the more serious behaviors may require immediate action. "Making a single minor driving mistake doesn't mean that a person needs to stop driving," said Lisa D'Ambrosio, Ph.D., research scientist at MIT AgeLab. "What families need to do is look for patterns of warning signs and for an increase in frequency and severity of the warning signs."

20 warning signs ranked from minor to serious

  • Decrease in confidence while driving
  • Difficulty turning to see when backing up
  • Easily distracted while driving
  • Other drivers often honk horns
  • Hitting curbs
  • Scrapes or dents on the car, mailbox or garage
  • Increased agitation or irritation when driving
  • Failure to notice traffic signs or important activity on the side of the road
  • Trouble navigating turns
  • Driving at inappropriate speeds
  • Uses a "copilot"
  • Bad judgment making left turns
  • Delayed response to unexpected situations
  • Moving into wrong lane or difficulty maintaining lane position
  • Confusion at exits
  • Ticketed moving violations or warnings
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Car accident
  • Failure to stop at stop sign or red light
  • Stopping in traffic for no apparent reason

"We Need to Talk" is produced by AARP and is based on information created jointly by The Hartford and MIT AgeLab. The course can be accessed at

More information about driving safely while you age, comprehensive driving evaluations, interactive tools for older drivers and their families, as well as a blog community is available at

The Hartford's 2010 Older Driver Conversation Omnibus Survey was fielded in October 2010 and was completed by 2,500 members of a managed access panel who were 18+ years of age and representative of the U.S. household population.

About the Hartford Advance 50 Team

The Hartford is one of the few companies in the United States with in-house experts on aging. For over 25 years, The Hartford has employed gerontologists to advance the creation and delivery of research, educational materials and innovative business solutions to enhance the quality of life for the 50+ market.

About The Hartford

Celebrating 200 years of helping its customers achieve what's ahead, The Hartford (NYSE: HIG) is an insurance and wealth management company. Through its unique focus on customer needs, the company serves businesses and consumers by providing the products and solutions they need to protect their assets and income from risks and manage their wealth and retirement needs. A Fortune 100 company, The Hartford is recognized widely for its service expertise and as one of the world's most ethical companies. More information on the company and its financial performance is available at

About the MIT AgeLab

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab is a global research program based within MIT's Engineering Systems Division and Center for Transportation & Logistics. The AgeLab conducts research on technology, behavior and innovation to improve the quality of life of older adults and those who care for them. More about AgeLab's research in transportation, health and wellness, and longevity planning is available at

About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan social welfare organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

About the AARP Driver Safety Program

The AARP Driver Safety Program is the nation's first and largest classroom driver safety course designed especially for drivers age 50 and older to help people live more independently as they age. Since the program's inception in 1979, over 12 million participants have completed the AARP course. The AARP course covers the normal changes in vision, hearing and reaction time associated with aging and provides practical techniques on how to adjust to these changes. Participants also learn how to operate their vehicles more safely in today's increasingly challenging driving environment and also receive a thorough review of the "rules of the road," with an emphasis on safety strategies.


Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We caution investors that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially. Investors should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ. These important risks and uncertainties include those discussed in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, our 2009 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We assume no obligation to update this release, which speaks as of the date issued.

The Hartford
Michelle Loxton, 860-547-7413
Thomas Hambrick, 860-547-9746

Source: The Hartford

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