Safe Cars for Senior Drivers

seniors driving

Driving helps senior adults stay mobile and lead more independent lives, so it’s no wonder that more and more people over the age of 65 are still on the road and behind the steering wheel. A 2017 report found there were around 44 million licensed drivers over 65 in the US and it’s no doubt a growing demographic that car manufactures would be wise to cater to.

Older drivers are statistically better at wearing seat belts, observing speed limits and refraining from drinking and driving than their younger counterparts. However, it has to be acknowledged that age-related physical changes, decline in vision and diminished cognitive functioning can affect some people’s driving abilities.

With that in mind, what you look for in a car is a little different when you’re 16 versus 66 or 76. Luckily, today’s cars are loaded with impressive features and technologies geared towards safety and comfort that are ideal for the older driver – and you don’t have to sacrifice style or affordability either.

Some of the elements seniors should look for when shopping for a new vehicle include:

Easy accessibility and visibility

  • A low step-in height to make it easier to get in and out of the car
  • A tall seating position so you can see out in all directions
  • Large windows with minimal blind spots
  • A power driver’s seat for effortless adjusting
  • An easy push-button starter and keyless access

Safety

  • A 360-degree camera, backup camera and/or parking assist
  • Automatic Emergency Breaking can help fend off a fender bender
  • Lane departure warnings in case you veer off course
  • Automatic headlights, as it’s so easy to forget to turn them on or off
  • A simple control layout, as many modern dashboards can be confusing to a non-digital native
  • Adaptive Cruise Control, especially for longer road trips
  • A GPS system to help with directions

Comfort

  • Many older drivers want little luxuries like leather upholstery, extra cushioning and heated front seats
  • More cabin room and large, easy-to-use controls
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control can keep both driver and passenger comfortable
  • Large, easy to manoeuver and access cargo hold, which you might need for a future mobility device
  • Efficient fuel economy, so every trip isn’t a drain on your wallet

With so many different cars on the market and new features (standard or optional up-sells) being developed each year, it is a daunting process to evaluate and select the right one for your specific and anticipated needs. You have to think about whether you want a large or small vehicle, a sedan, an SUV or hybrid, figure out your affordable price point and then prioritize what safety and comfort features you want. Here are a few suggestions that are particularly well suited to the seasoned senior driver.

  • Subaru Forester: The Subaru Forester has that senior-friendly combination of good comfort, clear visibility and simple-to-use controls. Safety systems like automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist and lane departure warning all come in the standard model.
  • Toyota Camry: This senior-savvy sedan is a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, and also garnered a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Automatic emergency breaking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warnings and lane-keeping assist all come standard. The Camry also known for its amazing visibility.
  • Hyundai Santa Fe: The Santa Fe is a smooth, comfortable SUV for older drivers, having great access to the front seat and excellent back support. Its standard safety features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and blind spot warning.
  • Honda CR-V: This crossover has a stellar IIHS safety rating. Its cabin is easy for older adults to climb into and be comfortable, and it boasts lots of legroom and storage space. Easy-to-fold rear seats make it flexible to transport everything from a scooter  to groceries. The standard CR-V comes with a rear view camera, but other safety features like adaptive cruise control are an easy upgrade.
  • Audi A4: If you have the budget for a luxury vehicle, the Audi A4 is roomy, comfortable and smooth to drive. Some of its standard safety features include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection. For an added touch of ease, the wipers and headlights turn on automatically whenever it rains. One less thing to think about.
  • Kia Sorento: This spacious, well-priced SUV is a great option for seniors who often transport their grandchildren and all the gear that seems to come with them. It has a a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS due to its excellent collision performance and easy-to-use controls.

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