AAA encourages seniors to make helpful vehicle enhancements

A safety group is calling on older drivers with health concerns that affect safety behind the wheel to make upgrades or buy new vehicles that have safety-enhancing features.
Friday ends the American Occupational Therapy Association's Older Driver Safety Awareness Week. In light of this, AAA Mid-Atlantic is calling on older drivers to ensure that they are using safety features in cars that may help to mitigate health issues that affect driving, said spokeswoman Christine Delise.
"Their fitness to drive is an issue that faces millions of families and all road users," she said. "AAA is an advocate for safe driving, for senior driver mobility and for ensuring that seniors drivers [have the] ability to continue driving for as long and safely as possible."
Health concerns like limited range of motion in the knees, arthritic hands and diminished vision, among other issues, could lead to unsafe driving, Delise said.
Nearly 90 percent of motorists 65 or older suffer from heath issues that hurt their driver safety, according to AAA. Of those drivers, only one in 10 use safety features like keyless entry or dashboard controls, according to a 2012 AAA survey.
"I don't know if that is maybe lack of knowledge -- maybe they don't know the stuff is out there, " Delise said.
She noted that AAA and the University of Florida's Institute for Mobility, Activity, and Participation compiled updated information to help older drivers learn about safety features. There is also a brochure that includes the vehicles that have the safety enhancements built into them.
Those who are not in the market for a new car can also make enhancements to their current vehicle, Delise said, noting she has helped her own family members make safety enhancements.
"There [is] a lot of inexpensive adaptive equipment that motorists can make to their existing cars," Delise said. "It ranges form something like -- which I purchased for my father -- a thick steering wheel cover that will help with hands that are more arthritic... [to] a plastic tool that you insert your key in that makes it easier to turn a key."