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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

Chart: Less than 0.1% of vaccinated Americans infected with COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Of the 164 million vaccinated Americans, less than 0.1% have been infected with the coronavirus, and 0.001% have died, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: While "breakthrough cases" have been getting some media attention, the low numbers show that the pandemic is mostly a threat for the unvaccinated population.

Poll: Women of color highly motivated to vote

Voting rights activists, led by Congressional Black Caucus chair Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), protest recent passage of voter restriction laws at Hart Senate Office Building on July 15, 2021. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Women of color turned out to vote at record rates in the 2020 election, with almost nine in 10 agreeing that the stakes were too high not to vote, according to a new poll.

Why it matters: The findings in the poll, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of a group of reproductive rights organizations, appear to confirm the highly-motivated voting bloc's emerging power.

Updated 3 hours ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Katie Ledecky in Tokyo. Photo: Ding Xu/Xinhua via Getty Images

🚨: Simone Biles won't compete in individual vault or uneven bars

🏊‍♀️: Katie Ledecky wins gold in women's 800m freestyle

🏊: Caeleb Dressel breaks world record in men's 100m butterfly, 3rd gold

🇬🇧: Britain wins gold in first-ever Olympic mixed 4x100m medley relay

💻: Japan tests teleporting games and "remote cheering"

🏳️‍⚧️: Axios at the Olympics: Games grapple with trans athletesTrans athletes see the Tokyo Games as a watershed moment

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

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