How a few inexpensive changes could help seniors drive safer

A new study says that 90 percent of seniors don’t make simple car adjustments that would improve driver safety.

As society continues to age, with many Baby Boomers now in or approaching retirement, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure that seniors can drive safely. As the Chicago Tribune reports, a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that while a few inexpensive vehicle adjustments could help seniors drive safer and for longer, 90 percent of seniors fail to utilize these adjustments. Given that seniors are twice as likely to die in a car accident than younger motorists are, the AAA Foundation says more needs to be done to promote these vehicle adjustments.

Only 10 percent use safety adaptations

The AAA Foundation study surveyed 3,000 U.S. drivers aged 65 and over. As Science Daily points out, the survey was part of AAA's Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD), which is a groundbreaking project aimed at creating the world's largest database on senior drivers. The survey asked drivers a number of questions about in-car adaptations that can make driving easier for seniors.

Worryingly, the survey found that only 10 percent of senior drivers actually had a safety adjustment installed in their vehicles . Furthermore, of those that did have at least one installed, 90 percent installed them without working with a trained professional, as is recommended practice.

Adjustments improve safety

Over 70 percent of those surveyed had muscle and bone problems, such as arthritis, joint pains, and hip or knee replacements. Certain in-car adjustments, like steering wheel covers and large mirrors can help people drive with just such problems. Other safety adjustments that were mentioned in the survey include seat pads to improve lines of sight, pedal extensions to maintain a safe distance from the steering wheel, and hand controls for those with limited use of their lower extremities. In total, 12 vehicle adaptations were included in the study.

Given that society is aging rapidly, it benefits both seniors themselves and everybody else on the road if such safety adjustments become more commonly used. From a safety perspective, these adaptations ensure that seniors can drive more safely, thus protecting themselves and other road users. Furthermore, the adaptations help seniors drive longer, thus combating the effects of lack of mobility, including isolation and depression.

Personal injury law

For those who have been hurt in an accident, it is extremely important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A traffic accident is both painful and costly, especially when expenses from vehicle repairs, medical bills, and lost income are taken into account. In many cases, compensation will be available, but the best chance of receiving such compensation is by consulting with an attorney who can help clients with every step of the claims process.