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AAA Helps Mature Drivers Choose “Smart” Vehicles

Smart Vehicles

By 2020, there will be more than 40 million licensed drivers ages 65 and older. In addition, the 65 and over age group ranks second in traffic fatalities. To keep this growing driving population safer on our roadways, AAA, in partnership with the University of Florida’s National Older Driver Research and Training Center (NODRTC), released today its list of the best vehicle features for older drivers.

The Smart Features for Mature Drivers report identifies the best vehicle features to assist drivers with the physical and mental changes associated with aging. It addresses common conditions faced by senior adults which may affect driving ability, including diminished vision, arthritic hands, hip and leg pain and limited upper-body range of motion.

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2006, 72 drivers over the age of 65 were involved in fatal crashes on Colorado roadways,” said Eric Escudero, AAA Colorado spokesperson. “Colorado has the nations's sixth largest concentration of retiring baby boomers. It is imperative that specific needs of aging motorists be addressed in order for them to continue to drive safely.”

In fact, a recent survey conducted by AAA found that 40 percent of motorists over the age of 65 suffered from at least one of nine driving related difficulties commonly caused by aging, and nearly one in five motorists over 65 plan to buy or lease a new vehicle in the next two years.

Because many of the changes our bodies experience as we age can affect our ability to safely operate a vehicle, AAA recommends mature drivers look for vehicles with features that address their specific needs and health issues.

Some recommendations include:

  • Drivers suffering from hip or leg pain, decreased leg strength or limited knee range of motion should look for vehicles with six-way adjustable power seats and seat heights that come between the driver’s mid-thigh and lower buttocks. Both of these features can make it easier for drivers to enter and exit a vehicle. Examples of vehicles to look for: Ford Edge, Honda Element.

  • Drivers with arthritic hands and painful or stiff fingers would benefit from four-door models, thick steering wheels, keyless entry and ignition, power mirrors and seats and larger dashboard controls with buttons. The Toyota Camry is one example of a car that can benefit drivers with diminished fine motor skills. Drivers with diminished vision or problems with low contrast sensitivity will find helpful options such as extendable sun visors, large audio and climate controls and displays with contrasting text. Examples of vehicles to look for: Chevrolet Impala and Mazda 6.

    Smart Features for Mature Drivers also includes vehicle features recommended for all seniors, regardless of health issues, such as:

  • Proven crashworthiness, crash test and rollover ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (safercar.gov) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (www.iihs.org/ratings).

  • Side and dual-stage/threshold airbags that adjust the deployment force based on the severity of the crash. Adjustable head restraints and extra padding.

  • Antilock brakes.

  • Dynamic stability control.

    Resource Guides

    This information lists the vehicle features best suited to address specific difficulties commonly caused by aging.

    The Smart Features for Mature Drivers report identifies the best vehicle features to assist drivers with the physical and mental changes associated with aging. It addresses common conditions faced by senior adults which may affect driving ability, including diminished vision, arthritic hands, hip and leg pain and limited upper-body range of motion.

    Mature Driver Fact Sheet
    Smart Features List
    Full Smart Features for Mature Drivers brochure
    List of Recommended Vehicles

    Drivers can also enlist the help of AAA’s Car Buying Service when searching for a new or used vehicle to fit them properly. Visit AAA Colorado AutoSource or call 1-866-625-3601 for more information.

    Visit www.aaa.com/seniors for more information on Mature Dirvers and AAA resources.



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