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Expert Tells Seniors How To 'Pimp' Their Cars

CBS 2 News

LOS ANGELES (CBS) - Dr. Marion Somers, an L.A. resident and expert in elder care, was an in-studio guest on the KCAL 9 News at Noon to discuss road safety for seniors.

The good doc knows first-hand how reliant Californians are on their cars, at any age.

But the fact is, the older we get, the more challenging – and dangerous – driving can become.

According to the California DMV, more than 2.5 million drivers are over the age of 70. How can these drivers make sure their rides are safe – not only for themselves, but for others on the road with them? Dr. Somers suggests that they "pimp their ride" - the senior way. She offers 4 easy ways to make over a car to accommodate the needs of an older driver. 

4 Easy Solutions to make any car senior friendly: 

Problem: Mobility - For seniors, who can be seriously injured with just one fall, getting in and out of a car can pose more of a challenge than one might think. 
Solution: Adding a straphanger, grip bar, or swivel seat can make the process easier and safer – often for less than $20. (Example – CarCaddie Mobility Aid: www.wellhaven.com) - 

Problem: Roadside Emergency - Car trouble can pose a major safety hazard for seniors. 
Solution: Make sure your older loved one is a member of a roadside assistance program, and equip their car with an emergency kit containing essentials like jumper cables, a flashlight, a mini first aid kit, electrical tape, and other "must-haves." (AAA 63-piece Emergency Roadside Kit: http://www.vat19.com)

Problem: Communication - Talking on a cell phone while driving is a concern at any age – but the small buttons and confusing menus can be a major distraction for older drivers. 
Solution: Try a hands-free kit, like one that uses the car's existing speakers and/or is voice operated so the driver doesn't have to fumble with the phone while driving.  (Parrot hands-free Bluetooth car kit: http://www.parrot.com/usa/products/hands-freecarkits/3200ls-color

Problem: Decreased Vision - When it comes to keeping an eye on the road, bigger is better. Solution: Extra large side mirrors with a fisheye can give seniors a clearer perspective of other traffic. A larger rear-view mirror can increase visibility behind the car, or consider installing a rear-view camera. 
(Panasonic Universal Car Rear-View Camera: www.panasonic.com).

When all is said and done, it's important to be proactive when it comes to a senior's driving. 

- Sign up older loved ones for a defensive driving class, or have them retested at the DMV to keep their skills sharp. 

- If you feel your elder should not be driving at all, it may be time to take away the keys altogether. Although it may be difficult, you could just be saving a life!

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