Vroom for Improvement

Source: 
AARP the Magazine
Published: 
02/03/2009

How to Add Affordable Safety Features to Your Parents' Car

When you were a teenager, your parents worried about your driving. Now you worry about theirs: older drivers, with their more fragile bones and bodies, are more likely than younger drivers to be seriously injured or killed if involved in a crash, according to an AARP research report. And an estimated 37,000 people 65 and older are injured each year simply entering or exiting vehicles—often because of falls—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found. Manufacturers are adding more safety features to newer vehicles, but you can easily improve Mom and Dad’s old car with a few budget-friendly upgrades.

Get a grip Hook an inexpensive strap hanger or grip bar to the door frame to give your folks something to hold on to as they get in and out. These aids help to prevent falls, which are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries for older adults, notes the CDC.

Do the twist Put in a swivel seat, a portable cushion that turns 360 degrees, to support drivers and passengers who need to back into their cars, says geriatric care manager Marion Somers, Ph.D.

Boost visibility Add a wider rearview mirror—such as a 15-inch panoramic model—to reduce blind spots, Somers suggests. A back-up camera, which transmits video to an interior monitor mounted on the dashboard, also can help.

These nonelectric add-ons are sold for less than $55 at Dynamic Living (888-940-0605; dynamic-living.com) or ActiveForever (800-377-8033; activeforever.com). Back-up cameras, for less than $100, can be found at large retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart.

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