"AAA SMART FEATURES FOR MATURE DRIVERS" PROGRAM
University of Florida's National Older Driver Research and Training Center.
Across the USA.
"Driving is a key to social interaction and healthy living and independence."
-Steve Mazor, AAA
"A vehicle is one of the largest purchases a person makes, and it is critical to find the right one for you. To help older drivers know what to look for in a vehicle, AAA worked with the University of Florida Institute for Mobility, Activity, and Participation to help identify smart features for older drivers (SFOD) to optimize their comfort and safety.
Seniors check off specific conditions they have under the following categories:
-Limited knee range of motion; hip or leg pain
-Short-statured or overweight
-Arthritic hands; diminished motor skills
-Limited upper body range of motion: back, neck, shoulders, arms
-Cognitive decline or reduced mental capabilities
Because everyone ages differently, AAA recommends senior 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" for how to buy the right car for seniors include:
-Senior 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.
-Senior 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.
-Senior 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 contrast.
Assistive devices for senior drivers may include:
Larger angled rear and side mirrors -Improve visibility and minimize blind spots
Pedal extenders- help drivers obtain a safe distance from the steering wheel/airbag and optimize visibility
Cushions and seat pads - Improve line of sight and can help alleviate back or hip pain
Leg lift straps- Allow the driver to use upper body strength to lift legs into and out of the vehicle
Leveraging devices- Allow driver to use upper body to ease vehicle entry and exit
Seat belt pull - Reduces distance in reaching for the seat belt and improves ease of grasping seat belt
Flat swivel seat - Eases vehicle entry and exit
Anti-glare film for side mirrors- Reduces glare from other vehicle headlights
Steering wheel covers- Improve grip for drivers with arthritic hand joints
Key extenders -Offer more leverage for turning keys in locks or the ignition and reduce stress on finger joints
Hand controls -Allow the driver to perform all vehicle maneuvers and functions without the use of lower extremities
Seat belt adjuster -Improves seat belt positioning
Shear seat covers -Decrease resistance when adjusting seated position
Rain-repelling glass treatment -Sheds water on exterior glass and improves visibility
* At age 40: Mental sharpness begins to diminish, thought processing slows, multitasking is more challenging, night vision worsens and recovery from glare is reduced.
• At age 50: Nine in 10 people require bifocals, and reaction time slows.
• Between ages 30 and 60: Muscle strength and range of motion can decrease up to 40 percent. • At age 70: Arthritic joints may make movement painful and restrict mobility, and conditions such as stroke, Parkinson's disease, hypertension and diabetes may affect how we interpret and react to the driving environment.
WATCH VIDEO ON HOW "AAA SMART FEATURES FOR MATURE DRIVERS" PROGRAM WORKS