It’s no secret that growing older comes with more than its fair share of challenges. Many senior drivers find that some challenges (like achy joints and muscles) can make getting behind the wheel difficult and uncomfortable.
Many features offered by current automobile manufacturers can make driving safer and more comfortable for anyone. And they may be of special interest to senior drivers.
If you are thinking of purchasing a new car, you’ll want to make driving as easy and safe as possible. With that in mind, here are a few options you may want to consider that can increase both your safety and your comfort while you drive.
The Best Safety Features for Senior Drivers
- High visibility. It goes without saying that it’s important to be able to see well when you drive. However, some cars make this a little easier than others. Look for a car with large windows to minimize blind spots. Higher seats may also increase your ability to see around you.
- Blindspot warning. And speaking of blind spots, some cars alert you know when there is a car beside you. This will give you extra assurance that the road is clear before changing lanes.
- Simple touch screen controls. Large, easy-to-read controls are a must. Some of today’s digital controls are much more intuitive and user-friendly than others. Make sure the model you choose has controls that you can easily see and understand, especially if you’re new to touchscreen technology.
- Lane departure warning. If you start to drift out of your lane without signaling, lane departure warning will let you know. Some cars will also gently steer your car back into its own lane if you cross the lines without using your blinker.
- Forward collision warning. Cars with this feature will sense if your car is too close to the one in front of you and sound a warning. Thus giving you more time to react and prevent the crash.
- Automatic Emergency Braking System (AEB System). This system does not only alert you of a possible forward collision. The AEB system may automatically apply the brakes for you. This can reduce the severity of a crash or even prevent one altogether.
- Adaptive cruise control. No more fiddling with your cruise control to keep a safe distance from the person in front of you. Not only is this a distraction, but you may also still be following too closely. Adaptive cruise control will keep your car at a set distance behind the person in front of you, automatically slowing down to match their speed.
- Rear cross-traffic alert. This goes one step beyond the backup camera and alerts you if vehicles are crossing behind you while backing up.
- Driver attention warning. This safety feature monitors your driving patterns and sounds an alert if it detects signs of fatigue.
Options For a More Comfortable Ride
- Backup camera. This feature could also qualify as a safety feature since it allows you to see things behind you that might not be visible otherwise. However, the comfort factor can’t be overlooked. With a backup camera, you don’t have to twist your body or crane your neck to see out the rear window, which is a major plus for anyone with achy joints. Since the middle of 2018, a backup camera comes as standard equipment. However, if you’re looking at older models you might need to shop around to find this feature.
- Accessibility. You’ll want to be able to get in and out of your car comfortably. If you have trouble squatting or climbing, take this into consideration. Make sure that you don’t choose a car that’s too high or too low to be comfortable.
- Power seats. Power seats are not simply easier to adjust. They also allow you to move the seat several different ways until you find the perfect position. In some cars, you can program your seat setting and return it to your position if anyone else drives.
- Heated seats. Heated seats can keep you warm if you venture out in chilly weather, and they can soothe an achy back or hips.
- Push-button ignition and keyless entry. This is especially useful if arthritis or other conditions have affected your dexterity. It spares you from digging for keys in your purse or fumbling to find the door lock or ignition. As long as your key is with you, you can unlock and start your car with the push of a button.
- Power liftgate. If you have grandchildren or golf clubs to cart around, you may be looking at SUV’s or minivans. You may have noticed how heavy that rear gate can be! Rather than risk injuring yourself, a power liftgate allows you to open or close it by pushing a button, either on your key or inside the vehicle.
As you can see, there are many features that can make driving both safe and comfortable. Before you begin your search, consider your needs and choose the features that are the most important to you. Not sure where to start? Check out this list of the best cars for senior drivers from Consumer Reports. Happy car hunting!
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