Savvy Senior: Car shopping tips for older drivers

Several features are available on vehicles to make driving easier for seniors.
BY JIM MILLER Published: February 5, 2013
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Stiff upper body: If you have difficulty looking over your shoulder to back up or merge into traffic, look for vehicles with a large rear window for better visibility, wide-angle mirrors which can minimize blind spots, back-up cameras, active parallel park assistance, and blind-spot warning systems that alert you to objects in the way. Also, consider vehicles that have a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, adjustable seat belts, and heated seats with lumbar support.

Arthritic hands: For easier use, four-door vehicles are recommended because the doors are smaller, lighter and easier to open and close than two-door models. And to help with painful gripping and turning problems, look for keyless entry and a push-button ignition, a thicker steering wheel, power mirrors and seats, and a sliding channel gear selector.

Diminished vision: Drivers with vision loss due to cataracts, glaucoma or some other condition should find vehicles with larger instrument panels and dashboard controls with contrasting text. And those with sensitivity to glare will benefit from extendible sun visors, auto-dimming rearview mirror and glare reducing side mirrors.

Smart features resource: To access the “Smart Features for Older Drivers” resource, visit SeniorDriving.AAA.com/SmartFeatures. Or, if you don't have Internet access, call AAA (call (800) 222-4357 to get local number) and ask them to mail you a free copy of the “Smart Features for Older Drivers” brochure. You don't have to be an AAA member to get this free publication.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC's Today show, KFOR-TV and is author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

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