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Savvy Senior

Aids For Easier and Safer Driving

Do you know of any car gadgets that help drivers with mobility issues? I have arthritis in my neck, back and knees which makes it difficult to get in and out of my car and look over my shoulder to backup.

There are a number of inexpensive products you can purchase for your vehicle to help with issues that come with limited mobility. Here are some popular auto aids to consider.

Entry and Exit Aids

For those who have a difficult time entering and exiting a vehicle, there are a variety of support handles and special seat cushions that can help.

One option is a portable support grab bar that inserts into the U-shaped striker plate on the doorframe to make entering and exiting a little easier. Another option is a support handle that straps around the top of the door window frame. A rotating or swiveling seat cushion may also help to pivot more easily in and out of vehicles.

Rear Vision Improvements

To help those with neck and back range of motion problems, which make looking over the shoulder to back-up or merge into traffic difficult, there are special mirrors and back-up cameras available for installation.

To widen rear visibility and eliminate blind spots, additional safety mirrors can clip on to existing rearview mirrors. You may find multiple types of mirrors, ranging from larger panoramic views to smaller mirrors meant to minimize blind spots by adding a small mirror in a corner of the sideview mirrors.

Many drivers find it helpful to add a backup camera. Finding a backup camera with features such as night vision is especially helpful. You may want to look for features such as night vision. The backup camera attaches to a rear license plate and comes with a small monitor that mounts to the dash or windshield. When the vehicle is in reverse, it sends live images wirelessly to the monitor so you can see what is behind you.

Seat Belt Extenders

Seat belt extension products can also make buckling up a little easier. You may need to find a specific extender for the make and model of your vehicle to ensure compatibility. Typically, the extender will fit into the seat belt buckle receiver to add a few inches of length, making it easier to fasten. Another option for seatbelt accessibility is adding an extension handle that attaches to the seat belt strap to make it easier to reach.

Gripping Devices

If you have hand arthritis that makes gripping difficult or painful, consider finding a steering wheel cover that fits over the steering wheel to make it larger, softer and easier to grip. For help twisting open gas caps, you may benefit from the use of a tool that works like a wrench to loosen and tighten caps.

Professional Help

If you need more assistance or specialized recommendations, consider contacting a driver rehabilitation specialist trained to evaluate drivers and provide safety and driving equipment suggestions.

In addition to the types of aids mentioned in this column, there is also a range of adaptive driving equipment that can be professionally installed on a vehicle – like swing-out swivel seats, pedal extenders, hand controls and more – to help people with various abilities. Search online for "driver rehabilitation specialist" to locate one in your area.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published October 14, 2022

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