AAA recommends car features for older drivers - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

AAA recommends car features for older drivers

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Seniors shopping for a new vehicle can find "smart" features that can help alleviate a variety of age-related health conditions that typically challenge older drivers in today's cars, according to AAA.

Nearly 90% of drivers age 65 or older have health conditions that can affect driving safety, yet only 10% are driving cars with features that address those conditions, according to AAA. So in the latest update of the roadside-assistance provider's "Smart Features for Older Drivers" report, AAA recommends a new crop of available vehicle features that can help alleviate older drivers' physical challenges while making the road safer for everyone.

"The aging process can diminish a person's vision or limit range of motion that could impact their driving," said Jake Nelson, AAA's Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research in a statement. "The good news is that AAA found more than 200 vehicles that have one or more smart features that can help an older driver deal more effectively with these conditions." 

The AAA originally launched the Smart Features listing in 2008 in partnership with the University of Florida's Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation.

The AAA's automotive experts reviewed more than 200 2013 model year models to identify features that better equip seniors for driving safety and comfortably. The listing helps them learn which vehicles are the best fits by knowing what to look and detailing current vehicles with those features. AAA's interactive online tool allows users to explore individual needs and specific medical conditions, as everyone ages differently, the group noted.

"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 Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research, in a news release.

The 2013 "Smart Features" report recommends:

  • Six-way adjustable seats for drivers with limited range of motion in their knees, or with hip or leg pain, as the seats require less strength to adjust and ease vehicle entry and exit.
  • Keyless entry and ignition, which reduces the amount of grip strength needed for those with arthritic hands or stiff fingers.
  • A thick steering wheel, which alleviates pain associated with twisting and turning for drivers with diminished fine motor skills.
  • Displays with contrasting text to reduce blinding glare for those with diminished vision or problems with high-low contrast.

Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65, AAA stated.

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