If you’re shopping for a new car, you’ll find a host of technologies that may be unfamiliar to you. For senior drivers, a number of these advanced features can prove quite helpful as they’re not especially difficult to decipher or use. To that end, we’ve reviewed each of the latest technologies to find nine that senior drivers should have. Further, we’ve added a tenth technology to keep in mind once driverless cars become a reality within the next few years.
1. Keyless Entry And Push-Button Start
Keyless entry is almost universally standard on today’s new cars. With one click of the key fob the driver’s door unlocks. Click the fob again and all doors unlock. This feature certainly beats fumbling for your keys or trying to unlock a door frozen shut following an ice storm. A bonus is a system that also brings in push-button start. That same key fob senses your presence when you’re behind the wheel and starts your car when you press your foot on the brake and push the ignition button. No more keys dangling from the ignition!
2. Power Tilt-And-Telescoping Steering Column
Adjust the driver’s seat and you’ll get the seating position you want. However, the steering wheel may be too high or too low or not close enough to you. A manually operated tilt-and-telescopic steering column is one option, but if it is power operated, then you won’t need to worry about whether or not it is locked securely in place.
3. Rearview Camera With Guidelines
Backing up can be difficult to accomplish, especially if you have limited space to maneuver. Beginning in 2018, all new cars must come equipped with rearview cameras. Fortunately, manufacturers are beating the deadline by making such cameras standard or at least available on nearly every new model today. Select a camera with guidelines and you’ll be able to gauge how close you are before hitting an obstacle, such as a garage door. Importantly and for added security, consider a camera system offering a bird’s eye view of the car. These systems utilize multiple cameras and sensors to provide you with a 360-degree vantage point of your vehicle.
4. Blind Spot Monitoring And Alert
You never saw it coming. That is, the vehicle riding in a blind spot on the right side of your car. Lucky for you and the other driver, the damage was light and no one was seriously injured. With blind spot monitoring, your car warns you whenever another vehicle approaches either side of your vehicle. What’s especially helpful are the small lights on the sideview mirrors, which illuminate to alert you if there’s an unseen car in your blind spot.
5. Lane Departure Warning And Lane Keeping Assist
Stay in your lane and you’ll avoid a potentially deadly accident. Today’s cars are loaded with safety features, and some driver assistance packages include lane departure warning, which sets off a beep or a chime to alert you when you’ve strayed out of your lane. Further, you can expand the technology’s usefulness by opting for lane keeping assist, which gently nudges the steering wheel to safely move you back into your lane.
6. Crash Mitigation Technology
Avoiding a crash isn’t always possible, but cars equipped with crash mitigation technology supply senior drivers with a critical driving edge. Indeed, such systems typically involve upgrading the standard cruise control to what is known as adaptive cruise control. With adaptive cruise control, sensors located on the front of the car detect other vehicles in your path and adjust your speed to maintain a safe distance between them. Certain systems include alerts to warn you when you’re closing in on another vehicle. Moreover, the advanced systems employ automatic braking, bringing your vehicle to a full stop if you fail to act quickly enough.
7. Automatic and Adaptive Headlights
Today’s cars have settings which automatically activate or deactivate your headlamps based on exterior lighting conditions. A knob located on the lower dashboard or a switch on the steering wheel stalk controls the settings. Adaptive headlights go one step further as they’re designed to extend visibility when navigating curves or ascending a hill. Such systems adjust the beams to swivel slightly to the left or right (or up and down), depending on the road conditions. Thus, objects that were previously outside of your line of sight are now illuminated.
8. Curve Speed Warning
Today’s vehicles are equipped with traction and stability control systems that keep your car planted while driving. Some new vehicles expand the technology by including curve control, which will immediately reduce your car’s speed by up to 10 mph if you navigate into a curve too fast. Certainly, it is not difficult to misjudge a road, but with curve technology in place your speed is slowed faster than you can react, providing an extra measure of protection as you drive.
9. Voice-Activated Navigation
Have you seen today’s navigation systems? They’re part of larger in-car infotainment systems and clearly some are superior to others. Instead of fumbling around with a screen you may not be familiar with, a voice-activated system allows you to call out commands while keeping both hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road. Navigation systems are not just for helping you find new places, but to steer you around traffic congestion when real-time updates are available.
10. Driverless Cars
Autonomous vehicles are on the way, which may prove to be the greatest boon for senior drivers. Let’s face it: there will come a day when you no longer will or should drive, but you may fear losing your independence. Once driverless cars become available you’ll be able to travel to the doctor, shop for groceries and continue doing the things you love most without burdening another person. The technology is currently being fine-tuned and should be ready by 2020. In the meantime, you have a number of semi-autonomous features available on certain models.
Senior Drivers: Technology Familiarization
Cutting-edge technology is not a replacement for maintaining sound driving practices. Further, you should understand how the technology works in your car as not all systems are the same. New car dealers routinely demonstrate how their cars work to customers before they leave the showroom. You’ll also receive an accompanying manual, and many newer cars have online tutorials that can help you decipher your vehicle’s tech features.