As seniors we’re no longer looking for that sleek little sports car – we couldn’t get out of one if we could get into it. We couldn’t double clutch it and whiz through the gears if it was a stick shift. Now we’re looking for comfortable seating, a roomy driving position, safety, good visibility and wide doors with high entries so we don’t have to struggle to get in and out. In a vehicle with style, of course.
Automakers are now designing cars with features that are more senior-friendly. Look for:
- Sliding rear doors that require little strength or even better, power sliding doors. Power anything is a plus.
- Brighter instrument displays and larger type.
- Doors that open wider.
- Navigation screens closer to eye level and not at arm’s length.
- Large side mirrors.
AAA recommends that drivers look for vehicles with features that address their specific health issues:
- For hip, knee or leg problems, a 6-way adjustable power seat is easier for drivers to enter and exit. Also look for seat heights that hit the driver between mid-thigh and lower buttocks.
- Arthritic hands, painful or stiff fingers benefit from four-door models, thick steering wheels, keyless entry and ignition, power mirrors and seats and larger dashboard controls.
- Those with diminished vision should look for extendable sun visors, large audio and climate controls and easy-to-read displays with contrasting text. And less glare. (Blue-green instrument lighting is easier to read than red.)
- A roomy trunk that can fit a walker or wheelchair.
If you can’t find one car that has it all, look to the automotive aftermarket for adaptive equipment. Aftermarket options include the ability to control secondary functions like turn signals and wipers with a touchscreen or voice control; pedal extenders; swivel seats and much more.
This mobility safety update has been brought to you by NMEDA – the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Need some information on how to make your vehicle wheelchair accessible or upgraded with the latest and most convenient features? Contact a NMEDA dealer in your local area. Your local NMEDA member is a mobility equipment and accessibility expert!