This post is part of a three-part series that explains elder friendly features for cars.
It comes as no surprise that a large bulk of our time is spent in motor vehicles. How many hours? One study estimates that the average American spends about three hours a day in a car. (To reframe that statistic, an eighth of your existence is spent in a car. Wow.) This reliance on automobiles explains our emphasis on the relationship between safety and motor vehicles. While safety is of the upmost importance (and should never, ever be compromised), there are additional factors to take into account when looking for a car. The fact that we spend such a large proportion of our time in cars means that we should try to be at ease while driving.
The experience of driving brings enough stress — reckless drivers and traffic topping the list. While we cannot always regulate these sorts of nuisances, there are certain factors we can control to make driving a bit more pleasant and a bit less tense. It should be noted though that ease-related features aren’t entirely unassociated with safety-related features. Indeed, achieving piece of mind behind the wheel is an accomplishment in and of itself and will make you a better, more relaxed, focused driver. Without further ado, here are a series of relevant automobile features.
What Seniors Should Look for in a Car to Maximize Ease
Simply put – voice command makes driving that much easier. By enabling the voice control for bells and whistles like the mP3 player, text messaging, and Bluetooth phones, drivers can concentrate on more important matters at hand, like the road itself. This is a particularly appealing feature for older drivers, as seniors are generally less adept with the fine art of multi-tasking.
The Ford Escape comes with the impressive Ford Sync system, which was dually developed by Ford and Microsoft as a voice command to control a car’s features. Ford Sync is not just for entertainment purposes though, it also can make direct 911 calls in case of an accident and comes with traffic, direction, and information services.
The adjustable steering wheel can be divided into two main types: the tilt wheel and the telescope wheel. The tilt moves the wheel in an up and down motion. Additionally, a telescope wheel can be adjusted in numerous positions, in various directions. The tilt and the telescope are not mutually exclusive though, as many cars provide both the tilt and the telescope wheel together. This happens to be the ideal option for aging adults that need to worry about proper posture, a common concern for the elderly. Instead of hunching over in a series of unnatural and uncomfortable positions, an adjustable steering wheel will essentially bring the wheel in line with the proper body alignment.
The Avalon might not be the fanciest car around but it is equipped with both the power tilt and the telescope steering option. In other words, if you are looking for a simple, basic vehicle but need adjustable steering, then the Avalon might just do the trick.
You might be asking yourself, why exactly is a spacious trunk an elder friendly feature? The reason is a lot less complicated than you might think: many seniors need the assistance of walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters. And for those that don’t need mobility aids, having a large trunk comes in handy for storing and transporting gear, like golf clubs or luggage. Consequently, having a car that can easily fit these sorts of hefty objects is a definite plus.
Mercury Grand Marquis
For all intensive purposes, the trunk on the Mercury Grand Marquis is spacious. Equipped with 20.6 cubic feet of space, the trunk is the largest in its class (standard six-passenger, large car). There is ample room for all sorts of big and bulky objects; no need to travel lightly.
Parallel parking is a daunting task, but, due to limited parking spots in larger cities, many drivers cannot avoid it. This is especially an issue of concern for seniors, who have poor depth perception and lack acute spatial reasoning — the skill set needed to be an effective and safe parallel parker. Yet, certain cars can help to compensate for these age-related declines by actually parking themselves. Push a button, sit back, and let the car take car of your parking needs.
Lexus LS 460L
With the Lexus 460L, you drive past a parking spot at less than 12 miles an hour, and sonar sensors detect the parameters for the available spot. There is a little button to press that initiates Advanced Parking Guidance System mode, backing up the car into the appropriate spot, and then finally announcing that the parking job is complete.