(LOS ANGELES, May 22, 2007) — The Automobile Club of Southern California today in conjunction with Older Americans Month spotlighted new vehicle models with "senior-friendly" safety features to show how older drivers can shop for cars that will help them drive safely. As part of its long-term Senior Mobility Initiative to keep senior motorists safe on California roads, the Auto Club says it believes addressing the needs of an aging population now will help prepare the state for an expected increase in its senior drivers as baby boomers retire.
"The Auto Club believes that people should be able to keep driving as long as they want to — if they can do so safely," said Steve Mazor, the Auto Club's Chief Automotive Engineer, who discussed and demonstrated "senior-friendly features" on 6 vehicles at the Auto Club's Headquarters. "There are a number of vehicles today that have safety features which can help improve visibility, provide early warning pre-crash intelligence and offer backing systems to keep seniors safe while driving."
The Auto Club showcased vehicles ranging in price from a $26,000 Saturn Aura to $60,000 Lincoln Navigator with key helpful senior driver features such as backing aids, adaptive cruise control, auto dimming rear and side view mirrors, improved headlights, systems to ease entry/exit from the vehicle, navigation and lane departure warning systems, adjustable pedal clusters and innovative dash displays.
Over the years, the Auto Club worked to improve mobility for seniors through its Senior Mobility Initiative. The Auto Club has provided educational programs like Roadwise Review, and offered mature driver improvement classes to explain how aging requires changes in driving skills; advised auto makers of vehicle-design options helpful for older drivers; supported funding for traffic-safety improvements such as larger letters on road signs and more visible pavement markings and served on a statewide coalition to improve traffic safety for older adults. The Auto Club has also worked with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and NHTSH by surveying more than 40,000 motorists to determine their use and perception of many of the safety features provided in current vehicles.
The number of seniors in California is growing. In 1990, people over 65 years old represented 10 percent of California's population. The California Dept. of Finance estimates that by 2025, seniors will total 8.7 million, nearly 17 percent of the state's population. By 2020, with more boomers retiring, there will be more than 40 million senior drivers in the U.S.California has no upper driving age limit and state law prohibits the Dept. of Motor Vehicles from using age to require a behind-the-wheel test at license-renewal time. However, motorists 70 or older must renew their license in person rather than through the mail.