More than 80 per cent of the over 60s say they would not use travel apps to plan a journey

Elderly and disabled unaware of smart travel technology

Smart travel technology is not being taken up by the elderly and disabled, two groups who could benefit enormously from it, the IET says.

More than 80 per cent of the over-60s would not use journey planning websites, apps or text messages to help plan their journeys, according to a new report published by the IET and ITS UK, the members' association for those working in intelligent transport systems (ITS).

Despite the ever-increasing use of data to produce fast responsive transport information, poor uptake of smartphone technology - only two per cent of over-65s owned a smartphone in 2012 - and little awareness of the benefits of travel information services mean many older and disabled people are not benefitting, the report says.

“There are all kinds of technology solutions that could really transform the travelling experience of older and disabled people and yet they are not being used," said Sahar Danesh, principal policy advisor at the IET.

“If we can find a way to encourage older and disabled people to embrace this technology, many of them could enjoy fully independent travel instead of being housebound or relying on relatives and carers as they do today. The potential implications for their quality of life – and for the economy – are huge."

The report 'Meeting the Needs of Older and Disabled Travellers' says the lack of uptake of smart travel technology among these sections of society is a missed opportunity and calls for a fresh approach to developing and marketing these technologies to these groups.

Better engagement between industry, travel operators, Government, engineering professionals and users will be essential in enabling a joined-up approach to ensuring that technology becomes a greater focus for developing inclusive mobility, according to the report.

Elliot Dunster, group head of policy, research and public affairs at disability charity Scope, said: “Disabled people still face a huge digital divide. This has a significant social and financial impact. Better access to modern technology could transform disabled people’s lives by supporting them to live more independently and to access services on equal terms.

"For example, journey-planning websites and apps can provide information about access and assistance, supporting disabled people to get out and about. Access to the internet is also vital to being a savvy shopper. Many of the tools used to compare the best consumer deals and offers are found online.

"But not all web content or modern technology is accessible or compatible with assistive technology. The law is unclear how far service providers must go in making their websites accessible. Scope believes a review of the law on website accessibility for disabled people is now vital.”

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