90 Percent of Senior Drivers Don't Make Vehicle Adjustments That Can Improve Safety

Most senior drivers surveyed by the AAA Foundation are not taking advantage of simple, inexpensive features that can improve safety and extend their time behind the wheel

Traffic Safety

MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 29, 2017) – Nearly 90 percent of older drivers do not make necessary and inexpensive adaptations to their vehicles, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Seniors age 65 and over are more than twice as likely to be killed when involved in a crash.

AAA urges seniors to consider making adaptations such as pedal extensions, seat cushions and steering wheel covers, in order to reduce the risk of a crash and extend the time they are able to drive.

This research is the first phase in the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s groundbreaking Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) project.  Researchers are currently engaged in generating the largest and most comprehensive senior driver database in existence, to better understand the risks and transportation needs of our aging population today. 

For this phase of the study, researcher’s investigated 12 vehicle adaptations and found that fewer than nine percent of senior drivers reported using any of the devices in their vehicles. 

Some of the inexpensive devices that can be purchased and put to use in new or existing vehicles are:

Vehicle Device

Potential Safety Impact

Cushions and seat pads

Improves line of sight and can help alleviate back or hip pain

Convex/ multifaceted mirrors

Improves visibility and minimizes blind spots

Pedal extension

Helps drivers obtain a safe distance from the steering wheel/airbag and optimize visibility

Steering wheel covers

Improves grip for drivers with arthritic hand joints

Hand controls

Allows the driver to perform all vehicle maneuvers and functions without the use of lower extremities


Previous research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that seniors who stopped driving are almost twice as likely to suffer from depression and nearly five times more likely to enter a long-term care facility than those who remain behind the wheel.  So extending their time on the road is important for their mental health as well.

In the LongROAD study, more than 70 percent of senior drivers had experienced health conditions that impact muscles and bones such as arthritis, hip/knee replacement and joint pains. Some seniors in the study reduced their driving due to these conditions. The installation of certain devices like steering wheel covers can help lessen the impact of arthritis while larger mirrors and assistive devices on seats can help with limited neck mobility.

“It’s surprising that more seniors are not utilizing vehicle adaptations when you consider the large number of people who are dealing with muscle and joint conditions,” said Chris Claeson, Manager of Driving Programs at AAA Minneapolis.  “We are committed to providing seniors with the information they need to make sound decisions.”

AAA is promoting this report in partnership with the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) to support Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.

About LongROAD: Recognizing that lifestyle changes, along with innovative technologies and medical advancements will have a significant impact on the driving experiences of the baby boomer generation, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has launched a ground-breaking, multi-year research program to more fully understand the driving patterns and trends of older drivers in the United States. The LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) study is the largest and most comprehensive senior driver database on senior drivers incorporating 2,990 participants. It will support in-depth studies of senior driving and mobility to better understand risks and develop effective countermeasures.