Older Drivers and Vehicle Safety Features

ChORUS logo and Check-to-Protect logo side by side.

Each year, more and more vehicle safety features and driver assistance technologies are added to new vehicle models that enhance the safety of the older driver experience. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver assistance technologies hold the potential to reduce traffic crashes and save thousands of lives each year.

As an older driver maybe you look for safety vehicle features like a system that warns if you are drifting out of your lane. The system may include audio or visual cues warning the driver when they are drifting out of the lane. This vehicle lane departure warning system can decrease collisions or near collisions from distracted driving.1

A backup camera can benefit older drivers because you can see behind you when reversing without craning your neck. The camera is mounted on the back of the vehicle and shows a video picture of what is behind the vehicle when the vehicle is in reverse. It will help any older driver with physical limitations not have to turn around when reversing.

The automatic emergency braking system will signal if a crash is imminent and slows or stop the vehicle before a collision occurs. This feature reduces crashes by distracted drivers since the vehicle will stop on its own instead of relying on the driver. Automatic emergency braking is helpful for older drivers who have slower reaction times.

The forward collision warning system will monitor the speed of the vehicles around the vehicle and if the two vehicles get too close, the system will alert the driver. This helps older drivers with depth perception and will keep drivers alert while driving. Forward collision warning system also serves as a reminder for distracted drivers.

Driver assistance technology in a new vehicle may include a driver attention warning system. The system detects drowsiness, including steering wheel movements and length of time driving. This technology has the potential to reduce crashes and allow drivers to assess their safety.

Before getting behind the wheel of a new vehicle, read the vehicle owner’s manual and talk with your car dealer to learn how to use all the safety features in your new vehicle.

Another way to aid in safer driving is adding adaptive or assistive technology to an older make or model. On average, Americans are keeping their vehicle longer than before, and as an older driver, you may need to add something like convex mirrors or seatbelt extenders to stay safe while driving.

Check to Protect is a program created for open safety recalls for vehicles and adaptive features in a vehicle. A recall is issued when a manufacturer or NHTSA determines that a vehicle or equipment creates an unreasonable safety risk or fails to meet minimum safety standards.

Automakers send out notices to the vehicle owners they have on file – but for older or previously owned vehicles, these notices may not be received. Vehicle safety recalls affect all years, makes, and models. In 2023, there are approximately 50 million vehicles on the road with open safety recalls. That is about one out of every five vehicles in the U.S.

Use the Check to Protect program in order to ensure that all vehicle safety features and the vehicle itself are safe.

If you notice that you rely on vehicle safety technology in your vehicle, consider evaluating your driving with the ChORUS Transportation Planning Tool. The tool takes approximately 3 minutes to complete and is 13 yes or no questions, generating a list of resources specialized for you and your driving needs.

For questions about the Check to Protect program or information about how to become more involved, please contact Lonny Haschel (Lonny.Haschel@nsc.org), Program Manager for Check To Protect.