The Norman Transcript

December 8, 2013

Smart cars offer assistance to older drivers

For the Transcript
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Older motorists shopping for a new ride can find smart features in today’s cars that help alleviate a variety of age-related health conditions, according to AAA. Nearly 90 percent of drivers age 65 and older suffer from health concerns that affect driving safety, for example, lack of flexibility and muscle strength.

To help mature drivers, AAA’s automotive experts reviewed more than 200 current model year makes and models to identify features that better equip seniors for driving safety and comfort.

For the updated, free, downloadable AAA brochure, Smart Features for Older Drivers, click here or visit AAA.com and look in the Safety Brochures section of News & Safety under Newsroom at the bottom of the home page.

“The aging process can diminish a person’s vision or limit range of motion that could impact their driving,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “The good news is that AAA found that more than 200 vehicles have one or more smart features that can help the aging driver deal more effectively with these conditions.”

AAA originally launched the Smart Features for Older Drivers project in partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation in 2008.

The most recent update lists 2013 vehicle features that optimize older driver safety and comfort, notes current vehicles with those features and allows users to explore their individual needs through an interactive online widget. Visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com/SmartFeatures.

AAA advises older drivers to look for vehicles that address their specific needs and medical conditions.

· Six-way adjustable seat help seniors with limited knee range of motion abnd hip or leg pain. The feature means it takes less strength to adjust and it’s easier to enter and exit the car.

· Arthritic hands and stiff fingers benefit from keyless entry and ignition. The feature reduces the amount of grip strength needed.

· A thick steering wheel helps aging motorists with diminished fine motor skills by reducing the pain associated with twisting and turning the steering wheel.

· Displays with contrasting text are great for drivers with diminished vision who have problems with high-low contrast. The feature reduces blinding glare.

“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 challenges,” Nelson said. “AAA’s goal is to give older drivers information to help keep them safer behind the wheel.”

AAA announced the Smart Features update in support of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week from Dec. 2-6.

Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.