Suitable cars for older drivers

Senior Driver

As we get older there are many things to consider when choosing a car. Quite often our needs change as the years pass, so while some of us might still dream of owning an uncompromised sports car, it’s probably time for a more considered approach. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to choosing a car, but ultimately it all comes down to your needs and lifestyle. Are you someone who likes to load up the car and hit the open road every chance you get, or someone who prefers to only get behind the wheel to run errands? Some of us will need enough seats for the grandchildren to pile in on the weekends, while others might prefer a big boot with enough space to store a mobility scooter or wheelchair.

Once you retire, you might spend less time behind the wheel. Fewer long journeys could mean that you can ditch the large car that’s expensive to run in favour of something smaller and more cost effective.

We at the Older Drivers Forum do not recommend people suddenly change from a manual to an automatic without having some driving lessons. Unfortunately we hear of far too many pedal confusion incidents happening to drivers when they change from a manual to an automatic without getting some lessons to get used to the differences. Pedal confusion incidents happen because the driver presses the accelerator instead of the brake.

To find where to get some driving instruction in your area, visit our courses page.

Useful Features to Consider

Most new cars now come with the latest safety and driver assistance technology that can make driving easier and safer for everyone (not just older drivers). The important thing is to make sure when changing your car you get the dealer to show you and explain everything. It is essential that plenty of time is allowed at the dealer handover for familiarisation with new features. Why not think about getting some instruction from an Approved Driving Instructor so you become fully converse with the new car. Regarding new technologies a key training focus is to ensure that the new technology is NOT a distraction. Over all age groups, distractions within the car is the second main reason for collisions.

To find where to get some driving instruction in your area, visit our courses page.

Perhaps look for a car that’s equipped with:

  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • A lane departure warning system and corrective steering
  • Parking cameras and/or sensors – some cars can even self-park as well
  • Blind-spot warning (BSW)
  • Forward collision warning (FCW)
  • Rear cross-traffic warning

Of course, it’s not all about the safety tech. There are also some basic things you might want to consider, particularly if you have limited mobility. You may want a car that offers:

  • An easy drive
  • Simple and easy to reach controls
  • Easy access
  • Intuitive use
  • Lots of space and comfort
  • Great visibility
  • A higher ride height for a commanding view of the road
  • Excellent headlamps
  • Wider door openings
  • A practical boot with no lip

So, under the criteria of vehicle suitability we suggest the following be considered:

  • The car is sufficiently new to be equipped with recent safety features.
  • There is comprehensive training on new features.
  • It is easy to enter and leave, and comfortable to sit in.

The Buy a Car UK website has some good advice on the best cars for older drivers, click here to read all about this.

The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) provides dimensions of many types of car to help you pick ones with, for example, a large wide opening drivers door. To see this website click here

Driver in a car