Nearly 90 percent of drivers age 65 or older have health conditions that can affect driving safety, yet only 10 percent 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.
Originally completed in 2008 in cooperation with the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation, the "Smart Features" study seeks to help seniors shopping for a new car find vehicle options that help with age-related challenges such as decreasing flexibility and muscle strength. Automotive experts reviewed more than 200 vehicles from the 2013 model year.
"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 statement.
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.
AAA released the new "Smart Features" list in conjunction with the American Occupational Therapy Association's Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, which runs today through Dec. 6 and aims to promote the importance of mobility and transportation in empowering elderly adults to remain active in their communities. Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65, AAA stated.