Simple fixes can make driving safer

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Driving becomes challenging when you get older. Age-related health changes can make it hard to see at night, grip a steering wheel, or step on the brake at a moment's notice. Simple car tools, such as steering wheel covers that make the wheel easier to grip, can help. But research released in December 2017 from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that most older drivers aren't taking advantage of such tools. Between 2015 and 2017, researchers asked about 3,000 older adults (ages 65 to 79) about their use of adaptive vehicle tools. About 9% of respondents said they had at least one such tool. Researchers also asked older drivers if their vehicles had factory-installed safety features, such as technology that alerts you to danger when you are about to change lanes. Fifty-seven percent said they had at least one of these technologies, but only 43% of that group reported using them.

Even if your vehicle isn't equipped with high-tech safety features, adaptive vehicle tools can make driving safer, say researchers. If you're having trouble seeing over the dash, a seat cushion will give you a little height. There are also gadgets to bring pedals closer to you, put dashboard buttons on the steering wheel, and provide support for aching backs or arms. An occupational therapist can help determine which tools might help you, where to get them, and how to have them installed by a trained technician.