One of the most dreaded issues that we face as adults is how to tell our aging parents they can no longer drive. Once an elderly person’s independence is taken away, it’s usually a downward spiral. I personally don’t enjoy driving, so this won’t be an issue for me when I reach that point in life. Besides, cars are already driving themselves. And even now, there are very inexpensive modes of transportation like Uber and Lyft. But, the number of 70+ year old drivers on the road today is enough to turn your hair grey (or white). According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the number of 70+ drivers in the U.S. is projected to increase from 30.1 million in 2013 to 53.7 million by 2030. I will be in that group…(yikes). In fact, I have decided to change my age to “yikes” (like how Prince changed his name to a symbol). So, the problem is that nearly 90% of drivers that are 65+ suffer from health issues that may affect their ability to drive safely. By this late age, one wouldn’t expect to be shopping for a new vehicle, but with the latest safety features and new technologies it would certainly be safer for them. Safety systems are increasingly being added to cars, which warn drivers of impending danger and in some cases, will take action to avert it. While driving that big old heavy steel car may “feel” safe, it’s certainly not safe for others around them. And, while one may feel comfortable with the fit of that older car, it may no longer be a good fit as our bodies shrink with age (osteoporosis). I am a whopping 5’ 2” now. So, all I have to look forward to, with old age, is getting even shorter. Perhaps considering the new safety features in vehicles being manufactured today can keep seniors driving longer.
AAA breaks down the vehicle features that can help older drivers into three categories: safety, ergonomics and comfort.
Safety features have had the most advances in technology that can keep senior drivers secure.
• Driver Assist uses cameras and sensors to warn a driver of impending danger. Some systems take action, such as steering and braking to avoid a crash. Even less expensive cars have these features now.
• Lane Departure Warning senses when a driver has drifted out of their lane and alerts the driver. Again, some will have automatic steering assist to steer the car back into its lane.
• Adaptive headlights illuminate the road ahead while going around turns.
• Automatic Crash Notification (such as OnStar). This can also help in a health emergency.
• Automatic High Beams
• Blind Spot Warning
• Automatic Emergency Braking
Ergonomics and Comfort features such as adjustable steering wheels, adjustable pedals and multi-position heated and cooled power seats with memory can help reduce fatigue and discomfort.
It’s good to know that both AARP and AAA offer driving resources for seniors. And, in a few years, I too will be seeking those resources when my age is “yikes.”
Until next week…
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Seniors Driving Longer – Comedy Defensive Driving School