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Useful Car Features for Senior Citizen Drivers

The ability to drive gives our aging population a sense of independence at a time in their lives when they are starting to feel the effects of getting older. Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, gradual loss of hearing, and bad eyesight are just some of the challenges that senior drivers have to face.

Thankfully, there are car features that can make things easier for older drivers.

What Research Says About Seniors Who Have Stopped Driving

According to 2015 AAAA Foundation for Traffic Safety President and CEO Peter Kissinger, the voluntary or involuntary cessation of driving may contribute to conditions like depression among the elderly.

Research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and Columbia University points out that senior citizens who no longer drive are almost twice as likely to get depressed. The same study reveals there is a higher chance that they will be admitted into a long-term care facility compared to those in the same demographic who can still drive on their own.

Those who have been prohibited from driving were also found to experience a dip in productivity levels and cognitive capabilities and participate less in everyday activities.

Some Top Car Features for Aging Drivers

It’s a good thing that automakers have come up with a wide range of car features to help boost senior drivers’ capabilities. Here are some of the top car features for older drivers.

Forward Auto-Braking System

Those who have bad eyesight and slower reflexes will benefit from having a forward auto-braking system. Car models equipped with a forward auto-braking system will find that their vehicle will automatically apply the brake when they are unable to respond quickly. Poor vision is something that is not exclusively experienced by seniors, which makes this feature useful for drivers of all ages.

Adaptive Cruise Control

With adaptive cruise control, a vehicle will be able to sustain a fixed speed and an acceptable distance from other cars. The adaptive cruise control system will take care of speeding up as well as slowing down the vehicle.

There are some adaptive cruise control systems that exclusively operate on highway speeds, while others can bring the car to a total halt in a traffic jam.

Pushbutton Start Mechanism

Fine motor movements, such as turning knobs or keys, can be a great challenge for people suffering from arthritis, gout, or other degenerative conditions. Old people are usually the most susceptible demographic when it comes to having these issues. Pushbutton start/entry takes away the need for keys and may only require the use of key fobs.

GPS Navigation System

Aging drivers with memory issues will appreciate having a real-time GPS navigation system. It can be set up to give audible directions, which also make it useful for people who have a hard time reading directions and street signs. Big, clear displays are preferable, and you can even include voice command when necessary.

Extendable Sun Visors

This is a useful feature when it comes to helping light-sensitive drivers block out excessive daytime brightness.

Digital Speedometer

Car manufacturers have models equipped with huge digital speedometers that are easier to read at a glance compared to conventional gauges with dials.

Rear Backup Cameras

Older drivers who have poor upper body strength and cannot do the full range of motion needed to view the rear end of their vehicles will benefit greatly from this feature. There are even side cameras on some car models that show what’s on the passenger’s side.

Self-Parking System

Vehicle producers like Ford have models with self-parking features. These allow drivers to automatically steer the unit into a parallel or perpendicular parking space by controlling the brake pedal and shift gears.

High-Intensity Adaptive Headlamps

Drivers who have poor night vision will find high-intensity adaptive headlights helpful. These can swivel to the direction of sharp curves as the driver steers the car. Some cars can also automatically make the shift from high to low beams when needed so as not to blind the drivers of incoming vehicles.

Heated Steering Wheels and Seats

Drivers suffering from joint pain, back discomfort, or stiffness in their hands or fingers in the colder months will find some relief with heated steering wheels and seats.

A Word of Warning

No matter how well-equipped their vehicles are, aging drivers should have regular consultations with trained health professionals to ensure that they are still fit to drive. It is also important to be aware of the conditions that may affect one's driving performance, such as light intensity, weather changes, or local events that can cause problematic scenarios on the road. The car features mentioned above may help prevent accidents, but they don't completely guarantee safety from car crashes that require accident lawyers.