There are precious few people who accrue years without also accumulating a long list of ailments. From arthritic toes to a touch of forgetfulness, age-related health issues come in all shapes and sizes. While most of these have almost no impact on a person’s day-to-day life, some complaints, like joint stiffness or shrinking stature, can make the simple act of driving a car an unbearably uncomfortable affair.
Fortunately, car designers are beginning to understand the benefits of catering to an older clientele. Today, various vehicles boast a wealth of features intended to make aging drivers feel more comfortable and confident behind the wheel. If you or someone you know is having trouble driving, you may need to fine-tune the following features — or find a vehicle that can.
1- Power Adjustable Pedals
After the ripe age of 30, people begin to lose about half an inch in height every decade. For safety reasons, drivers must be 10 inches away from the steering wheel, but after age-related shrinkage, some older drivers have trouble maintaining this distance and having adequate control over the brake and gas pedals. Most vehicles allow drivers to adjust the height of pedals, but it can be arduous work. Some carmakers include power adjustable pedals to make the process easier on those who really need it.
2- Appropriate Vehicle Height
Even younger people can experience joint stiffness, but older drivers are more likely to have trouble getting in and out of vehicles due to their unyielding knees and hips. Finding a car that allows older drivers to easily slip in and out of their seats is crucial to preventing aches and pains. Most drivers find that buying crossover vehicles resolves this issue.
3- Keyless Entry
Many older drivers don’t have dexterity and fine motor skills in their fingers, which makes manipulating small items, like keys, exceedingly difficult. For decades now, carmakers have made standard electronic entry using button-controlled key fobs, but even these small buttons can cause older drivers finger pain. The solution, then, is keyless entry, which allows drivers to enter and start their vehicles without fumbling with keys and fobs at any time.
4- Thick Steering Wheels
A common old-age ailment, arthritis destroys a person’s firm grasp, especially on thin or small items. Most steering wheels are designed to fit comfortably in the average hand, but aging hands are far from average. Thicker steering wheels are more comfortable to arthritic fingers. Fortunately, in most cases, steering wheel covers provide enough girth, and they have other positive attributes, like cushioning, temperature control, and style.
5- Supportive Seats
Core strength, which is achieved from the abs and back, steadily degrades as we get older, due to lessened importance on physical exercise and age-related decreases in muscle tone. That is why so many older adults suffer from back aches. Older drivers can compensate for their weaker core with car seats that provide ample back support. Adjustable lumbar reinforcement is key to mitigating back pain, and ample suspension on seats can cut back on pain accrued from jolts on the road.
6- Automatic Door and Tailgate Close
Additionally, decreased strength in other parts of the body, especially the arms and hands, can make closing a vehicle tight a tiring task. To save on time and energy, many older drivers would likely appreciate automatic closing devices all around the car, including the tailgate and doors. This feature is often an upgrade, but for aging drivers it can be well worth the expense.
7- Larger, Higher-Contrast Controls and Instruments
Even if older drivers have strong enough eyes to drive, their vision may not allow them to see fine detail up close. Crucial controls and instruments on the dashboard, including the speedometer, odometer, and fuel gauge, come in small print that many carmakers find stylish, but older drivers simply can’t discern. Larger labels in higher contrast colors help keep older drivers in full control of their vehicles.
8- Larger Mirrors and Backup Cameras
The neck is a delicate and crucial joint, and most aging adults simply can’t spare the limited neck torsion they have to check blind spots while driving. Fortunately, there are a handful of auxiliary mirrors available that absolutely eradicate blind spots and eliminate the need to crane the neck into uncomfortable positions.
9- Heated Seats
Most pains, no matter their cause, feel better with rest and warmth. Most older adults could complain about some ache any time of the day, which means the option to apply heat while driving, any time of day or year, is a major boon. This feature can also be beneficial for those living in colder climates.
Tags: driving tips