3 Vehicle Features to Help Seniors
If you find that your limitations make driving too hard, the answer may not be to give up but to upgrade to a new vehicle with different features.

For senior citizens, driving can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, the ability to drive is often crucial to living independently, which is very important for many seniors. On the other hand, physical limitations that accompany aging can often make driving more difficult and dangerous, which can prompt seniors to give up their keys permanently, even if their driving skills are still intact.

If you want to drive, but find that your limitations make driving too difficult, the answer may not be giving up the keys but trading them in for a new vehicle with different features. We already wrote a previous blog on car-buying tips for seniors, but here's a deeper look at some new vehicle features that can help keep you driving safely longer.


1. Heated Steering Wheel and Seats

A heated steering wheel or heated seats may be a luxury for some drivers, but for seniors, they can be an important adaptive device.

If you have arthritis or other joint problems, you may find that sitting in the driver's seat - especially for a long trip - or gripping the steering wheel is just too painful. Sometimes, it's not even the driving that's the problem; it's the stiffness in your hands or your hips and back when you stop and get out of the car.

Heated seats and steering wheels can help by keeping your joints lubricated. Not only does it help keep pain at bay while you're driving, you'll be less stiff once you let go of the wheel because your joints and muscles are warmed up and relaxed.

Not only can this feature make driving more comfortable, it can also help keep you safer on the road. If your joints are loose and limber - especially the joints you use for steering - you'll be able to react more quickly if you have to swerve to avoid an object in your path.

2. Backup Cameras

Backup cameras can be helpful for all kinds of drivers. The design of modern vehicles, from the shape of the car to the tint on the windows to the headrests on the seats, make it harder to see out of the back window than it was decades ago.

But seniors face additional challenges. In addition to arthritis and other joint problems, which can make the turning motion required to check your blind spot in the back window difficult, seniors also often experienced diminished vision.

If your vision is no longer 20/20, even with glasses, or if you lose some of your peripheral vision, the problem may not be pronounced enough to prevent you from renewing your drivers' license, and it may not cause problems when you're looking straight ahead.

But even a slight loss in vision can make it harder to judge what's behind you with a quick backward glance. Pain or stiffness due to arthritis only complicates the problem further.

Backup cameras address both the vision and mobility problems. They allow you to see the objects behind you either in the dashboard panel or the rearview mirror, both of which are much closer to you than the back window. Chances are that you'll be able to see more clearly, even if your vision has declined somewhat.

You'll also no longer have to make that potentially painful turning motion with your neck, shoulders and torso. Some backup camera systems even add more features, like dynamic guidelines, which can make backing up even easier and safer than it ever has been before.

3. Keyless Start and Entry Systems

One more feature that addresses common mobility problems like arthritis is a keyless entry and start system.

With an ordinary car key, you have to grasp the key and turn, which can be tough when your joints are stiff and achy. Keyless start and entry systems rely on a key fob. The fob sends a digital signal to the car that allows the doors to unlock or the car to start.

Push the button on the fob to unlock the car, depress the brake to start the ignition, push another button to turn the car off. This can save your fingers and wrists a lot of trouble. If you're prone to locking your keys in the car, a keyless entry system can also help, since they can prevent the doors from locking when the key fob is still inside the car.

And because seniors can sometimes be targets for thieves, it's also important to note that cars with keyless entry systems are more difficult to steal. It's far more difficult to capture and duplicate the digital signal from a car's key fob than it is to copy a key. It's not impossible to steal a keyless entry car, but it's certainly a lot more work, and therefore less likely.

Not only can these features make driving safer and more convenient for seniors, it may also cut your insurance costs a bit. Features like backup cameras that are obvious safety enhancements often help you qualify for an auto insurance discount. If you're a senior who wants to make sure you can continue to drive, check out a dealership near you to find seniorfriendly features on a car that you love.