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Car shopping tips for older drivers

Published 11:47am Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dear Savvy Senior,

What resources can you recommend to seniors who are shopping for a car? My wife and I are relatively healthy 70-year-olds and are looking for a new senior-friendly vehicle, but could use some help.

~ Older Drivers

Dear Older,

For seniors who are in the market for a new or used car, the AAA (American Automobile Association) and the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation has just updated an excellent resource called “Smart Features for Older Drivers” that can help you choose a vehicle that meets your needs as you age.

Senior-Friendly Vehicles

While the automotive industry doesn’t make vehicles specifically designed for senior citizens, they do make certain vehicles with features that can help accommodate the needs of older drivers.

With that in mind, “Smart Features for Older Drivers” addresses the age-related physical changes – like diminished vision, arthritis, and range of motion loss – that can affect a senior’s driving ability and comfort behind the wheel, and outlines various vehicle features that help address those issues. Here’s what they recommend.

Safety First

The first priority is to identify vehicles with a proven safety record which you can research online at safercar.gov and iihs.org/ratings. Also look for vehicles that have dynamic stability control, anti-lock brakes, adjustable head restraints, and side and dual-stage/threshold airbags that adjust the deployment force based on the severity of the crash.

Your next step is to identify specific vehicle features that can help meet your physical needs. So depending on what ails you, here’s what to look for.

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