NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — AAA reports that 90 percent of drivers ages 65 or over suffer from some kind of impairment like arthritis or lack of vision that could impact their ability to drive, but there are some simple fixes that could make them safer on the road.
If you think driver’s ed is just for teenagers, even seasoned drivers say they can benefit from a refresher course like the one offered by AAA.
“I always want to come to this class,” said driver Elanor McCartan.
“There’s a lot of true and false questions,” said driver Jean Smith. “I got most of them wrong.”
At the class, drivers will not only learn about road conditions that could lead to accidents, but also what they may or may not be doing behind the wheel that could increase their risk on the road.
“Drivers over 65 are more likely to die in a crash than a younger driver because of their physical frailty and we looked at certain pieces of equipment that a driver could add inexpensively that could help them be more comfortable on the road,” said AAA’s Robert Sinclair.
Sinclair says simple vehicle accessories like a steering wheel cover can make all the difference in the world by improving grip for those with arthritis.
“Convex mirrors, a lot of drivers might have mobility problems, they can’t look over their shoulders to check blind spots when they’re changing lanes,” he said. “Seat cushions will help with back problems, pedal extensions will help with leg cramps.”
Although easy additions, Sinclair says less than nine percent of older drivers opt for these items that can be found in any automotive store that will also help extend their time behind the wheel.
“It’s devastating, they lose their independence and a lot of research we’re doing and other companies are doing is looking into things that can help senior drivers stay on the road,” said Sinclair.
New cars often have built-in technology like automatic braking, cross traffic alerts and lane departure warnings but AAA also recommends drivers consult with a trained technician to also make these simple adjustments to their vehicles.