I happened to browse on the site of the American Automobile Association and read the news about AAA Helps Aging Drivers Match Vehicle Selections to Physical Changes. The article tackles a bout the AAA’s recommendation about vehicle features that can assist drivers with visual, physical and mental changes that are frequently encountered as they age. Also the post deals with the conditions often faced by senior adults, including those with impaired vision, arthritic hands, hip and leg pain and limited upper body range of motion on how they deal with driving using the “Smart Features for Mature Drivers”

In the recent surveys done by the AAA, they have identified 43 percent of motorists over the age of 55 are suffering from at least one of the nine driving related difficulties due to aging. Moreover the survey also indicates that nearly one out of four motorists over 55 plans to purchase a vehicle in the next two years. Persons over the age of 65 represent the fast growing population of the United States. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 29 million of the population of people aging 65 and older are licensed driver in the United States in 2005. It is estimated that by 2020 there will be more than 40 million licensed drivers age 65 and older.

As the person is aging, the changes that they undergone physiologically can affect their driving ability. Muscle strength, reaction times, range of motion and visual acuity weaken as a natural part of the aging process. Also, as people ages, they become prone to health issues such as arthritis, hip and knee joint pain or osteoporosis can reduce the ability to safely execute the complex task of driving.

Considering the great effect of the increasing number of aging drivers in the US, AAA recommends mature drivers to look for vehicles that possess features suitable in their specific needs and health issues. AAA recommend that drivers who are suffering from hip or leg pain, with a decreased leg strength or limited knee range of motion should acquire a vehicle with six-way adjustable power seats and seat heights that come between the drive’s mid-thigh and lower buttocks. These features make it easier for drivers to enter and exit their vehicles. On the other hand, drivers with an arthritic hands, painful or stiff fingers or diminished fine motor skills should have a vehicle with a four-doors, thick steering wheels, keyless entry and ignition, power mirror and seats, and larger dashboard controls with buttons. Furthermore, drivers with a weak vision or problems with low contrast sensitivity will find it helpful to have a vehicle with extendable sun visors, large audio and climate controls and displays with contrasting text.

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

  • Proven crashworthiness, crash test and rollover ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
  • 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

With AAA commitment on keeping senior driver to be safe along their travel they have recommended the following suggestions through their Lifelong Safe Mobility initiative “By providing public services such as Smart Features for Mature Drivers, AAA aims to keep our growing senior population safe behind the wheel.” Robert L. Darbelnet, AAA President and CEO.

Well, I guess it is a good idea to suggest my grandpa to find a new car that will suit his specific needs and health issues because just a week ago, he let my brother Bryan to drive for him because he’s suffering from leg and hip pain.