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Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Older adults continue driving until the last 6 to 10 years of their lives, though their ability to safely operate a vehicle may diminish because of illness, limited mobility or side effects of medication.

The big picture: The U.S. has 47 million adults 65 and over — a number that is only expected to grow — and 80% of them hold a driver’s license and live in areas that require a car to get around. Autonomous vehicles have the potential to remake older drivers' golden years by allowing them to maintain independence while still giving up their car keys.

Like many Americans, older drivers will need to overcome their anxieties about AVs to give them a chance. They will also face unique challenges, like learning to navigate ride-hailing apps and added difficulties should they need to assume some level of manual control. The AV may need to allow a longer window of time for older riders with limited mobility to enter or exit the vehicle, or to include control options for a caregiver accompanying riders with physical or cognitive impairments.

AVs also hold financial promise for the over-65 crowd, since transportation is retirees' second biggest expense. Because AV ride-sharing may be cheaper than owning a vehicle or being driven by someone else, it could save older adults money while still affording them autonomy. AV delivery services could further reduce the number of trips they need to make themselves, perhaps also at lower cost.

The bottom line: Among older adults, giving up driving has been linked to depression, isolation, and early entry into nursing home facilities. It also burdens caregivers. AVs could therefore have much to offer that would improve their well-being.

Laura Fraade-Blanar is a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health and an adjunct researcher at the RAND Corporation.

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Go deeper

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters rallied outside fortified statehouses over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

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