Contact Us | Advertise With Us | Editions | Links 

Tampa Bay Online Edition

Last Updated: Aug 20, 2008 - 10:49:56 AM 

Front Page 
 
 Top Stories
 Features and Series
 Finding Florida
 Community In Focus
 Links Mentioned
 In Your Words
 
 News & Community
 Community News
 Business
 Where In South Hillsborough?
 Observing The Web
 In Uniform
 Obituaries
 Community In Retrospect
 
 Commentary
 
 Nation and World
 
 Columnists
 Fishtales
 Positive Talk
 Over Coffee
 Saturation Point
 View From the Road
 Wandering Florida
 Savvy Senior
 You, Me and Business




Observer Classifieds

Archives / Search 2003

Send a Letter to the Editor

Send a Press Release

Staff Directory
 

Savvy Senior

Smart Auto Features for Older Drivers
By Jim Miller
Aug 21, 2008 - 10:48:35 AM

Email this article
 Printer friendly page
Dear Savvy Senior,
Are there any good resources that offer tips on what older drivers should look for when purchasing a new car? My wife and I have been looking around, but at ages 69 and 71 we want to make sure we get a good vehicle that meets our future needs and current budget.
Senior Drivers

Dear Senior,
The National Older Driver Research and Training Center at the University of Florida and AAA recently developed a handy new guide called “Smart Features for Mature Drivers” that’s perfect for seniors who are in the market for a new car or those evaluating their current one. Here’s what you should know.
Shopping Guide
Even healthy seniors face some degree of physical challenge (­reduced vision, mobility, strength, range of motion and reaction time) that can make driving more ­difficult. Finding a vehicle with features that meets those challenges can make a big difference in both pleasure and safety.
“Smart Features for Mature Drivers” is a great tool to help seniors evaluate a vehicle, by focusing on the different features that address age-related problems. Here are some of the features they recommend you look for, depending on what ails you:
• Limited range of motion: ­Drivers with limited flexibility in the neck, back and arms usually have a difficult time looking over their shoulder to back-up or to merge into traffic, and have a hard time reaching for their seat belt too. These drivers can bene­fit from large, wide-angle mirrors which minimize blind spots, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel that ­offers more comfortable positions to alleviate neck and shoulder pain, adjustable seat belts that are easier to reach, and heated seats with lumbar support to help those stiff achy backs.
• Limited mobility: If you suffer from hip or leg pain or limited knee range of motion, look for vehicles that have low door thresholds, six-way adjustable power seats, and seat heights that come up to your mid-thigh level. These features make it easier for you to get into and out of the vehicle.
• Arthritic hands: Drivers who have hand or wrist arthritis or a weak upper body can benefit from thick steering wheels which are easier to grip, keyless entry and ­ignition that eliminates twisting and turning, power mirrors and seats that are easy to operate, ­larger dashboard controls with buttons versus knobs that are easier to manipulate, and four-door ­models versus two-door cars which have longer heavier doors that are ­harder to open.
• Diminished vision: Drivers with diminished vision and sensitivity to glare will find extendable sun visors helpful, as well as larger audio and climate controls with contrasting text which are easier to see.
• Short drivers: For older drivers that are small in stature it can be a challenge to comfortably reach the pedals without being too close to the airbag or being able to see over the steering wheel safely. To help with these problems, look for ­vehicles with adjustable foot pedals, tilt and telescoping steering wheel and six-way adjustable seats.
Safety Features
AAA also recommends that all seniors, regardless of their health issues, look for vehicles with solid safety features and a proven safety record. Start by checking the ­vehicle’s crash test and rollover ratings which you can find at www.safercar.gov. Other safety features to look for include: side and dual-stage/threshold airbags that adjust the deployment force based on the severity of the crash; adjustable head restraints and ­extra padding that moves forward to cushion the head, reducing neck injuries when a car is hit from the rear; antilock brakes that prevents the wheels from locking during emergency braking; and dynamic stability control which helps prevent loss of control in a turn.
Savvy Tip: To get a copy of the “Smart Features for Mature Drivers” brochure, call your local AAA (call 800-564-6222 to get your ­local number). You can also view it online at www.aaa.com/seniors along with their list of 2008 vehicles that provides these senior-friendly features.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit www.savvysenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.


 

© Copyright 2008 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

Top of Page

Savvy Senior
Latest Headlines
Generic Drug Savings
High-Tech for Low Vision
Job Resources for Un-Retirees