The effects of aging may impact many favorite pastimes, but driving doesn’t always have to be one of them. Older adults may be able to enjoy extended years of driving pleasure, independence, and travel simply by choosing a car that meets their unique needs the best.
Part of the reason safe driving is improving for seniors is that more research is being done on older drivers. And what researchers are finding again and again is that older drivers are among the safest drivers on the road! That means caregivers, doctors, and others can be more open to the idea of older drivers on the road.
While some normal signs of aging, such as a loss of flexibility, may make it more difficult to drive there are a variety of ways to compensate. One way is through technology.
Driving Technology is Better These Days
One way technology is helping older drivers is by offering more ways to see what’s going on while driving. Large, wide-angle mirrors can assist with vision, for example. And rear-view cameras have changed driving (especially backing up!) for drivers of every age, but especially senior drivers. Very often, the effects of aging cause limited mobility in the back and neck, making it difficult to twist around when reversing.
Parallel parking assistance technology is another safe solution for senior drivers, as are other futuristic features like crash warning signals and navigation systems.
In fact, the array of options might feel overwhelming. Good thing the American Automobile Association has already thought of that.
Finding Smart Features for Older Drivers
Older drivers, AAA has you covered. They offer a free tool for older drivers on their website, which can be used to assemble a list of features to look for if you’re in the market for a new car.
The tool is cleverly designed by “issue”, so users can drill down to the exact features that suit their particular needs or shortcomings. For example, if you’ve experienced decreased leg strength as part of the natural aging process, there’s a handy drop-down list for that.
Click on your issue and you’re presented with a helpful list of automobile features you might consider adding to your list of “must-haves” for the next car you purchase. Choose the ones you think make sense for you, then submit your picks. The tool returns a list of car makes and models that offer the features you need.
Here’s a taste of what you’ll get by using the tool.
Let’s say decreased leg strength is a problem for you or your senior loved one. The tool suggests the following features to help overcome that challenge:
- adjustable foot pedals
- low door threshold and minimal sill width
- six-way adjustable seats
- power seats
- leather or pleather seats
Or maybe you are dealing with “diminished vision”?
There’s a list of suggestions for that, too, including auto-dimming mirrors and extendable sun visors. Keep checking back with the tool, since automobile manufacturers seem to be constantly coming up with extraordinary new technology making it safer for everyone to drive. But it’s a great starting point. More importantly, it’s great to know that you don’t necessarily have to give up the keys anytime soon.
The AAA tool is by no means an exhaustive source of information. The list of car models they supply does list prices and fuel economy but it offers minimal additional data. So you’ll probably want to gather information from multiple sources before you decide what to purchase.
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