"Smart features" on cars can assist senior drivers

Thanks to advances in medicine and people taking better care of themselves, more people are living longer and are remaining active than ever before. As people age, however, they can lose some of the physical abilities they had when they were younger, and this can have an impact on how they perform daily activities such as driving. Senior drivers should be aware of "smart features" available on vehicles that can assist them in being safer drivers.

Addressing senior drivers' needs

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010 there were over 40 million people aged 65 and older in the U.S., and about 34 million of them were licensed drivers. The American Automobile Association reports that there will be an estimated 40 million licensed drivers aged 65 and over by 2020.

Many older drivers struggle with decreased vision, limited range of mobility and arthritis - which can interfere with their abilities to drive safely. Motor vehicle manufacturers are constantly introducing new features on their vehicles to make them more comfortable and convenient for all drivers, but some of these "smart features" can be particularly beneficial to meet senior drivers' needs. Experts at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recommend that seniors who suffer from the following conditions seek particular features in the vehicles they drive in order to reduce the chances of an auto accident:

  • Leg pain: Drivers who experience pain in hips or legs, limited range of knee motion or decreased muscle strength in their legs should consider vehicles with six-way power adjustable seats so they can easily access the brake pedal and accelerator.
  • Vision problems: Some of the features that can assist drivers with vision problems include auto-dimming mirrors that reduce glare from other vehicles, larger audio and climate controls and contrasting-text displays.
  • Arthritic hands: Drivers with arthritis in their hands or with limited motor skills from other conditions can find several features that reduce the need to twist controls useful, such as keyless entry and ignition, rain-sensing windshield wipers and power mirrors and seats.

Senior drivers at risk

New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that it is particularly important for senior drivers to take precautions against auto accidents. While the instances of motor vehicle accidents are not statistically higher in senior drivers, according to AAA, the rate of fatalities from car accidents is higher in seniors compared to other age groups. Seniors often have less ability to survive serious trauma, so serious motor vehicle accidents are often fatal for them.

Talk to a lawyer

Technology can help increase safety in vehicles, but currently it cannot completely eliminate the human factor involved in driving. Not all drivers use the appropriate amount of care when behind the wheel. If you have been injured in an auto accident due to another driver's negligence, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney with a proven record of success in handling car accident cases.