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AAA offers tips to keep older adults driving safely

Habits, technologies can help to extend driving age

COPPELL, Texas – According to AAA, new studies show advanced automotive technologies and safe driving habits can help older motorists remain behind the wheel longer into their lives.

Research at the AAA Foundation found that seniors who give up driving are more than twice as likely to experience depression and nearly five times as likely to enter a long-term facility. That's why it's important to stay safe when driving to extend the driving age.

“Permanently giving up the keys can have severe consequences for the health and mental well-being of older adults,” said AAA Texas V.P. of Government & Community Affairs Linda von Quintus. “New technologies and a focus on safe driving can help seniors remain behind the wheel for years to come.”

Six types of technologies the research examined were found to provide high value for older adults by potentially reducing crashes and improving the ease and comfort of driving:

  • Forward collision warning / mitigation: These systems can help prevent crashes by warning drivers of a potential collision or by automatically applying the brakes. For older drivers, this technology can improve reaction times and reduce crashes by up to 20 percent.
  • Automatic crash notification: These systems automatically alert emergency services in the event of a crash. Older drivers are more likely to suffer from the serious effects of a crash because of their age, which means these systems can provide a greater safety benefit to seniors.
  • Park assist with rearview display: This technology includes backup cameras and obstacle-detection warning systems, which can help prevent crashes when pulling out of a parking space. About 95 percent of seniors want these systems in their next vehicle, while 55 percent reported that it can help reduce driver stress and workload.
  • Parking assist with cross-traffic warning: These systems utilize radar sensor technology to notify drivers of crossing vehicles when backing out of a parking space, and on some vehicles, the systems automatically can apply the brakes to prevent a collision.
  • Semi-autonomous parking assistance: These systems take over steering while moving into a parallel parking space, which can reduce stress and make parking easier for older drivers.
  • Navigation assistance: Turn-by-turn GPS navigation systems can provide older drivers with increased feelings of safety, confidence, attentiveness and relaxation, which can help seniors remain focused on the road and comfortable behind the wheel.

AAA experts said seniors should consider the long-term benefits of choosing a newer vehicle with advanced safety technologies.

Other strategies that can prolong driving years are:

  • Avoid challenging situations like driving at night, in bad weather, during rush-hour traffic, in unfamiliar areas or on the highway
  • Avoid distracting behaviors like talking on a cellphone, texting, eating, smoking or grooming in the car

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