Utilizing Your Vehicles Safety Features as an Older Driver

An older woman driving a car

June is National Safety Month, which includes vehicle safety!

As we age, driving can become more challenging due to age-related changes in vision, hearing, and reaction times. However, we all know how important road safety is, and modern vehicles come equipped with a variety of safety features designed to help drivers of all ages. For older drivers, utilizing these features could improve driving safety. If your car is older and lacks some of these advanced features, there are modifications you can make to improve safety.

Understanding Modern Safety Features

Modern vehicles are designed with safety features to help prevent crashes and minimize injuries if collisions occur. For older drivers, some of the most beneficial features include:

  • Blind Spot Monitoring: This feature uses sensors to detect vehicles in your blind spots and alerts you if it is unsafe to change lanes. This is particularly helpful for older drivers who might have limited neck mobility.
  • Lane Departure Warning and Lane-Keeping Assist: These systems alert drivers if they unintentionally drift out of their lane and can even steer the vehicle back into the lane. This can be crucial for drivers who may occasionally get distracted or have difficulty maintaining lane position.
  • Automatic Emergency Braking: If a potential collision is detected, this system can apply the brakes automatically, helping to prevent or mitigate accidents. This is useful for older drivers who may have slower reaction times.
  • Rearview Camera: Parking and reversing can be challenging. A rearview camera provides a clear view of what’s behind your vehicle, reducing the risk of backing into obstacles or pedestrians.

Find more information on how your vehicles features can help you with ChORUS or search the ChORUS Library for more information. 

Adapting Older Vehicles for Enhanced Safety

If you’re driving an older vehicle that lacks these modern safety features, there are several adaptations and upgrades you can consider, such as:

  • Blind Spot Mirrors: Adding these to your side mirrors can help you see areas that are typically hard to view.
  • Add on Backup Cameras: These can be installed to provide the same benefits as built-in rearview cameras, making parking and reversing safer.
  • Seat Cushions and Supports: For better comfort and improved driving posture, consider using ergonomic seat cushions or supports. This could help reduce fatigue and enhance overall driving control.
  • Vehicle Maintenance: Ensure your car’s brakes, tires, and lights are in excellent condition. Regular maintenance checks are essential for older vehicles to ensure all systems are functioning properly.
  • Adaptive Equipment: Steering wheel covers with better grip, pedal extensions, and larger mirrors could make driving easier and safer.

In addition to leveraging your vehicle’s safety features and making necessary adaptations, regular health checkups to ensure your vision, hearing, and reflexes are adequate for driving is essential. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider and consider having a driving assessment if needed.

By taking these steps, older drivers can improve their safety and continue to enjoy the independence and convenience that driving offers. The key is to stay proactive about your safety and make use of all available resources to ensure a safe driving experience.

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