AAA Names “Smart” Car Features for Older Drivers

AAA’s list helps “silver tsunami” match health concerns with helpful vehicle features

Son drives senior mom weating seatbelts

Seniors shopping for a new ride can find “smart” features in  today’s cars that help alleviate a variety of age-related health conditions that typically challenge older drivers, according to AAA.  Nearly 90 percent of motorists 65 and older suffer from health concerns that affect driving safety, for example, lack of flexibility and muscle strength.  To help inform seniors about smart car choices, AAA’s automotive experts reviewed more than two hundred 2013 model year makes and models to identify features that better equip seniors for driving safety and comfort in an update to Smart Features for Older Drivers.

“Although older Americans are healthier now more than ever before, the aging process can diminish a person’s vision or limit range of motion that could impact their driving,” said Georjeane Blumling, Vice President of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater. “The good news is that AAA found that more than 200 vehicles that have one or more smart features that can help the aging driver deal more effectively with these conditions.”

To help underscore the need to improve older driver safety as 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, AAA originally launched Smart Features for Older Drivers in partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation in 2008.  In the recent update, Smart Features lists 2013 vehicle features that optimize older driver safety and comfort, notes current vehicles with those features, and allows users to explore their individual needs through an interactive online widget [SeniorDriving.AAA.com/SmartFeatures] at SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

Because everyone ages differently, AAA advises older drivers to look for vehicles that address their specific needs and medical conditions.

Recommendations included in Smart Features for Older Drivers, include:

Condition:

Feature:

Why it’s smart:

Limited knee range of motion; Hip or leg pain

Six way adjustable seats

Less strength to adjust, Easier to enter and exit car

Arthritic hands; stiff fingers

Keyless entry and ignition

Reduce amount of grip strength

Diminished fine motor skills

Thick steering wheel

Reduce pain associated w/ twisting and turning

Diminished vision; problems with high-low contrast

Displays with contrasting text

Reduce blinding glare

 

 “A 2012 survey revealed that only one in 10 senior drivers with health issues are driving a vehicle with features like keyless entry or larger dashboard controls that can assist with such conditions,” said Blumling.  “AAA’s goal is to empower older drivers with information that can help keep them safer behind the wheel.”  

AAA is announcing the Smart Features update in support of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, December 2-6, 2013.  This week aims to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensure older adults remain active in the community—shopping, working or volunteering—with the confidence that transportation will not be the barrier stranding them at home. You can learn more about the AOTA here.

For more information on which vehicles are the right fit for you and to access all the free resources AAA offers to senior drivers, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 325,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATWnews.

AAA news releases, high resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at AAA.com/news.

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