Remaining independent is one of the most important facets of aging.  Eating right, exercising, maintaining an active social life – all contribute to a healthy existence.  Independence is the key.  So when the dreaded day arrives and it’s time to hang up the keys, many hang up their independence as well.   Studies have shown, those faced with the dilemma of no longer having the freedom to drive, fall into serious depression, lose touch with friends and family and are left feeling isolated and alone.  Their mental, and emotional state suffer, which eventually affects their physical health as well.   The sad truth is at the moment, there aren’t a lot of transportation alternatives.  Many feel embarrassed to have to ask friends or family members for a ride, unless it’s a necessity such as a doctor’s appointment.  The attitude is that asking someone to drive them to Bingo, Bunco or the senior center for a dance, are frivolous and might be construed as taking advantage.  But those are the types of activities that keep them mentally and emotionally healthy!  Just because their eyesight is failing or they now have physical limitations doesn’t mean they no longer want to socialize, get out and enjoy life!

So what’s the answer?  Think about how great it would if these folks could just walk out to their garage, jump in a car and tell it where to go, in a nice way!  If you think that’s some ridiculous futuristic thing that only happens in a sci-fi movie, think again.  Autonomous cars are fast becoming a reality.  Google has recently expanded its self-driving car to Chandler, Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe and Gilbert.  The cars currently have drivers who can take control if needed and passengers who record how the car reacts in some tricky situations – everything from haboobs and watering trucks! Also the extreme heat is one of the reasons the Valley was chosen as a test site – so the engineers could find out how the cars reacted in extreme weather conditions.  You may have seen one around town – they have a strange looking gadget on the roof!   If you’d like to earn more about the Google Self-Driving car project, visit the website www.google.com/selfdrivingcar/.  It’s not that far off so get ready to fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride!  Driverless that is!

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