NEW YORK – AAA, in partnership with the University of Florida's National Older Driver Research and Training Center (NODRTC), has released its Smart Features for Mature Drivers, which identifies vehicle features that can assist drivers with visual, physical, and mental changes that are frequently encountered as they age.
The announcement addresses conditions often faced by senior adults — including diminished vision, arthritic hands, hip and leg pain, and limited upper-body range of motion — and highlights features that best address each condition with examples of vehicles exemplifying those features.
"Many of the changes our bodies experience as we age can affect our ability to safely operate a vehicle," said Dennis P. McCarthy, co-director of the University of Florida's NODRTC. "When looking for ways to help maintain an older person's safety, it's important to address the vehicle they are driving. Today, specific vehicle features can help improve driver comfort and safety."
In a recent survey, AAA found that 43 percent of motorists over the age of 55 suffered from at least one of nine driving related difficulties commonly caused by aging, and nearly one out of four motorists over 55 plan to purchase a vehicle in the next two years.
Because everyone ages differently, AAA recommends mature drivers look for vehicles with features that address their specific needs and health issues. Some of the recommendations included in Smart Features for Mature Drivers 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.
- Drivers with arthritic hands, painful, or stiff fingers or diminished fine motor skills would benefit from four-door models, thick steering wheels, keyless entry and ignition, power mirrors and seats, and larger dashboard controls with buttons.
- Drivers with diminished vision or problems with low contrast sensitivity will find helpful vehicles with extendable sun visors, large audio, and climate controls and displays with contrasting text.
Concurrent to the release of Smart Features for Mature Drivers, AAA launched a Web site with content devoted to senior drivers and their families at www.AAA.com/seniors.