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Car Features That Help Seniors

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Car features that can make your driving experience safer and more pleasurable.

You may remember how Britain’s Prince Philip made the news for all the wrong reasons when he crashed his Land Rover into another vehicle in January 2019. Most people reacted in disbelief — not at the actual accident, but at the fact that he was still driving when he was already 97 years old!

To set the record straight, driving is all about skills, not age. However, it is a tough fact of life that ageing inevitably compromises many aspects of our abilities.

Take the eyes, for instance.

Vision changes caused by presbyopia, which usually strikes when one is around 40 years old, could make it difficult to focus on near objects. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old. And senior drivers aged 60 years and above may have to deal with compromised vision due to cataracts and degenerative eye diseases.

Then there is the issue of limited mobility, which compromises reaction times.

Your driving style changes as you get older and you should get a car that complements your physical capabilities. If you are over 65 and certified fit to drive, these car features would be helpful.

Senior-friendly design
Look for vehicles with wider openings and step-in heights that allow for ease of access without the need to duck or strain the knees. Vehicles should also allow drivers to see easily out through the front, sides and back of the vehicle. The gauges should be easy to read, and the controls for adjusting the sound system, air conditioner, and gears should be accessible and simple to operate.

Special features Lights
For good visibility at night, consider adaptive headlamps that pivot in tandem with the car’s steering angle to more effectively light the way through curved roads.

Forward-collision warning (FCW)
FCW offers a visual, audible and/or tactile alert to warn the driver to engage the brakes to avoid hitting another car or obstruction in his or her path.

Automatic emergency braking (AEB)
Some car models offer AEB, which can take over and automatically apply the brakes when it senses an impending collision and the driver isn’t responding quickly enough.

Blind-spot warning (BSW)
BSW detects vehicles you can’t see alongside your car and gives a visual, audible and/or tactile alert to indicate that it’s unsafe to merge or change lanes. The system may provide an additional warning if you use your turn signal when there is a car in the lane next to you.

Automatic day/night mirrors
Auto-dimming rear-view and side mirrors can minimise glare when driving at night, which is useful for senior citizens with vision issues.

Rear view camera display and proximity sensors
The rear view camera display gives a clear view of the back of the car when the reverse gear is engaged, a great tool for parking regardless of the driver’s age. Having proximity sensors alert drivers when they are getting too close to an object, vehicle or pedestrian.

Depending on the model of your car, the above list may come as standard or optional features.

According to Consumer Reports, the Subaru Forester tops the list for having quite a few of these features, though some of them are optional add-ons. A few other cars that make the list include Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Subaru Outback and Honda CR-V. If your dream car does not have a feature that could complement your physical limitation, do consider paying for the option, as it will make you safer on the roads.

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