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Cars for older drivers: what to look for

Cars for older drivers: what to look for

Modern vehicles have lots to offer older drivers, from automatic gearboxes to assistance technology. Here are some top tips if you’re looking for a car to make life a bit easier on the road.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
posted 28 OCTOBER 2019

Older drivers and UK roads

More people aged over 70 are staying behind the wheel, with the number of older people holding full driving licenses rising by 14% to 4.5 million in 2016. But while being on the road is convenient at any age, what suited you in a car when you were 25 might not be the same when you’re in your eighth decade. Here are a few things to look out for when you’re buying your next motor as an older driver.

Choose automatic instead of manual 

An automatic gearbox is simpler and easier to operate than a manual one. Instead of having to manage the clutch pedal and gearstick while driving, automatic transmissions change the gear to match the car’s speed. This is especially useful if you suffer from arthritis or strength and mobility problems.

Take advantage of creature comforts

Find a car that’s comfortable for you to sit in. Whether that’s having the right amount of legroom, good lumbar support or a height-adjustable seat and steering wheel for the optimum seat position. Heated seats can also help to ease stiff joints, particularly in winter.

Think about accessibility

If you struggle with mobility, getting in and out of a car can be difficult. Avoid heavy doors, low seats and restricted access – look for a model that offers a high seating position and doors that open wide or slide out of the way.

Make sure of good visibility

Government figures show that a larger proportion of older car drivers have accidents related to failing to look properly. Cars with bigger wing mirrors and windows will give you more visibility without having to twist and turn.

Find the right size car 

Smaller cars are usually more economical and they’re easier to manoeuvre and park. However, if you need more room for a wheelchair or walking aids, for example, you might want to consider an SUV (sport utility vehicle) – this will give you the internal space you need without adding too much bulk to the outside.

Try telematics

Telematics or ‘black box’ technology is usually associated with helping new and younger drivers cut their car insurance premiums. But a telematics insurance policy could do the same for older drivers too.

The black box is an electronic device that’s fitted to your car and it monitors your driving over time. It records journey time, speed, acceleration, braking and cornering to measure how safe you are on the road. Insurance providers can use this information to lower premiums if you’re proven to be a careful driver.

Make the most of driving assistance technologies  

Cars nowadays are packed full of tech, and assistance technologies can be really useful for helping you stay safe on the road. For example:

  • Parking sensors can help you manoeuvre safely
  • Blind spot detection will alert you to out-of-view dangers
  • A reversing camera can help you park in tight spots
  • Lane departure warning systems can help you stay in your lane
  • An electronically opening boot means you won’t have to reach up to close heavy doors.

There are even cars on the market with tech that recognises road signs for you.

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