What happens if you start to have a heart attack behind the wheel? Being in control of your car is a common desire for most people, but suddenly suffering the impacts of a heart attack could lead you to lose control quickly. With a widening baby boomer population in the U.S., considerations of the risks faced by older drivers are being explored in research studies to figure out how to prevent accidents tied to medical events. 

A driver experiencing an unexpected cardiac event such as a heart attack could put other people on the road at risk. It can be difficult to determine when a heart attack is happening and give a driver limited opportunities to pull over or notify other drivers of the problem.

Fellow motorists and passengers face risks of serious injury or death when another individual has a medical emergency behind the wheel. That’s why Michigan Medicine and Toyota are working together to determine whether or not a system can be developed to monitor a driver’s heart condition and notify him or her of potential problems.

Researchers are moving towards technology that can analyze and monitor the physiology of a person operating the vehicle to warn them of adverse cardiac events could help to prevent serious injuries. Far too many vehicle accidents are caused by unexpected medical conditions. When a person is focused on the medical condition and the painful symptoms associated with it, there is little chance that they’ll be able to notify other drivers using their hazard lights, making it more likely that cars will pile up in an accident. The current research team hopes to report their results by the year 2020. Those drivers aged 65 and beyond frequently have many different medical issues that can contribute to vehicle crashes.

By 2030, many older age drivers will be on the road which can increase the risks associated with a medical event behind the wheel.