How Technology Can Increase Senior Driving Safety
September 4, 2018
When is it time for seniors to stop driving? The Internet is full of articles offering advice and checklists for families – and that’s important information! However, there’s another aspect of senior driving safety that’s just as important: helping seniors drive safely as long as possible. Even the healthiest people inevitably experience physical symptoms that can make driving more difficult and dangerous.
Fortunately, technology is helping seniors drive more safely and protecting themselves and other drivers from accidents.
Smart Car Technologies
Even though most seniors are cautious drivers who tend to drive slower, avoid congested roads, and limit nighttime driving, they’re more likely to be injured in accidents and suffer complications later. Fortunately, in-car technology can help seniors compensate for physical limitations related to normal aging. For example:
- Automatic breaking assistance can help reduce the severity of car crashes – or even avoid them altogether. They use a combination. Some brake assist systems can even detect objects other than vehicles – like mailboxes, pedestrians, and the neighbor’s dog. Look for a system that brakes for the driver instead of simply issuing an audible warning about a collision.
- Rearview cameras help people with reduced mobility and flexibility safely back out of parking spaces, avoiding other vehicles, people, and other types of obstacles. As of this year, they’re required standard equipment in all 2018 model year vehicles.
- Rear cross traffic alert systems are an important complement to rearview cameras. They work when the car is in reverse and warn drivers of oncoming traffic and pedestrians.
- Blind spot warning systems alert drivers to hazards in the vehicle’s blind spot and make lane changing safer. Most offer an audible warning as well as a visual warning in the vehicle’s side mirror.
- Forward collision warning monitors a vehicle’s speed and the distance between vehicles. If the vehicles get dangerously close, the driver receives both a visual and audible warning.
These features may be packaged with higher cost upgrades, but consider that they can also lower insurance rates and save lives.
Helpful Automobile Features for Senior Driving Safety
Features don’t have to be cutting edge or high tech to increase driver safety and comfort. Fortunately, most of these older technologies are now standard on vehicles at all price points.
- Power windows and mirrors are easier for seniors with joint pain or reduced mobility to operate. Having side view mirrors adjusted property is vital to driving safety. Car and Driver has this “how-to” article describing how to adjust side mirrors to eliminate blind spots.
- Seat height adjustment helps compensate for one unpleasant part of aging – as we get older, we tend to get shorter. By age 70, people may be 2-3 inches shorter than they were in their 20s. All car seats, of course, adjust back and forth, but seniors particularly benefit when the seat can be raised in lowered. Higher, raises the line of sight and gives the driver better visibility, while lower can make entering and exiting the vehicle easier.
- Automatic transmissions can make senior driving easier and safer. There’s less to do, so the driver can focus on the road. Driving itself is less physical (no shifting and no clutch).
In-Car Medical Alert Systems
Even the most cautious, alert drivers are at risk for accidents. After all, you can’t control other drivers!
With Bay Alarm Medical’s Splitsecnd in-car medical alert, drivers have an on-the-road emergency alert button. It plugs into a car’s 12V outlet and contains a GPS locator and crash detector. The companion cell phone app allows family members to track the car’s location and stores the medical records first responders need to provide prompt and effective medical care. After a crash, the system automatically alerts the emergency call center so operators can dispatch first responders.
Use the system in your own car, when traveling with others, and in rental cars. It offers extra safety and peace of mind whether your loved one is driving to the supermarket or leaving on a long road trip.
For Seniors, Driving Is More Than Transportation
Senior driving safety is an emotional topic for families – with good reason. Think about how you felt when you first got your driver’s license. It represented independence, self-sufficiency, and a path to adulthood. Now imagine someone telling you that you’re too old or too frail or too forgetful to be trusted behind the wheel. No wonder many seniors resist even talking about the subject.
When the family frames the discussion in terms of “let us help you drive more safely,” your relative is likely to be more receptive and open to suggestions.