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Features for Senior Citizens

Oldest and Youngest Drivers are Most Dangerous on Road: Consumer Reports

Best cars for the elderly and teenagers recommended by magazine

Several models of Subaru picked as best cars for senior citizens.

Aug. 28. 2012 - While they stand at opposite ends of the demographic spectrum, and both groups include many good drivers, statistics show that overall teenagers and elderly drivers (80 and older in this report) are involved in far more crashes and highway fatalities than any other age group, according to a special report by Consumer Reports.

For its latest investigation, Consumer Reports reviewed government and industry data. Mile for mile, the crash rate for drivers ages 16 and 17, for example, is almost nine times as high as that for middle-aged drivers. People 80 and older are involved in 5.5 times as many fatal crashes per mile driven as middle-aged drivers.


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For young and old drivers, the reasons behind the risk are as different as the people themselves. Teens struggle with inexperience behind the wheel and developing brains that might not accurately assess risks. Older drivers have plenty of experience and even tend to drive less, but age-related conditions can impede their driving ability. And when a crash happens, their fragility leads to more severe outcomes.

Asking loved ones and friends to hand over their keys, because of diminished skills can be an awkward milestone. Many seniors reduce their driving voluntarily as their abilities decline. But at some point, they might become unsafe to themselves and other motorists.

The full report on risky drivers contains insights into the risk factors for these drivers, along with tips to help deal with their unique challenges and test-based recommendations on the best cars for teens and older drivers. This report will be available at on August 28th and in the October issue of Consumer Reports, on newsstands September 4th.

Best Cars for Senior Drivers:

Consumer Reports' list includes new and used vehicles that scored well in Consumer Reports tests for access, visibility, front-seat comfort, driving position, and controls. All vehicles have average or better reliability, and most have standard electronic stability control. (It's optional on the Ford Taurus, Mercury Sable, and Toyota Camry prior to 2010.)

In alphabetical order:

   ● Acura: RDX (2013)

   ● Ford: Taurus (2008-2009)

   ● Honda: Accord V6 (2006-2007), Accord (2008-2012)

   ● Hyundai: Azera (2006-2011), Genesis (2009-2012)

   ● Infiniti: M (2006-2010)

   ● Lexus: RX (2006-2009)

   ● Mercury: Sable (2008-2009)

   ● Nissan: Altima (2010-2012)

   ● Subaru: Impreza (2012), Legacy (2010-2013), Outback (2010-2013), Forester (2009-2012)

   ● Toyota: Avalon (2005-2012), Camry (2007-2012), Highlander (2004-2012), RAV4 (2006-2012)

   ● Volkswagen: Tiguan (2009-2012)

When to ask for the keys of older drivers

Many seniors reduce their driving voluntarily as their abilities decline. But at some point, they might become unsafe to themselves and other motorists.

They can use a self-rating tool on the AAA website to help assess their skills and get advice on how to maximize their safety on the road.

If you need to assess a senior’s driving ability, watch for these red flags:

·   Slow response times.

·   Inability to fully turn to check blind spots.

·   Running stop signs.

·   Motorists honking at them frequently.

·   A hesitation or reluctance to drive.

·   Cognitive dysfunction, such as getting lost or calling for help.

·   Repeat fender benders, dings, or paint scrapes on the car.

You can also get advice through a free online seminar on the AARP website.

If you think the situation is serious, consult the person’s doctor. Keep in mind that medications and physical conditions, such as reduced vision, a stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease, can affect driving performance in dramatic or subtle ways.

Editor's Note: A version of this article appeared in the October 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine with the headline "Risky Drivers."

Best Cars for Teens:

Buying a car for a new driver can be a balancing act between getting one you can afford and finding one that's safe and reliable. Consumer Reports recommends consumers look for a vehicle with advanced safety features, such as electronic stability control (ESC) and side-curtain air bags, and one that performed well in independent crash tests.

Parents should avoid getting their teen a large pickup or SUV; its high center of gravity makes it more prone to roll over. Large vehicles can also have unwieldy handling and poor fuel economy, and they allow teens to carry more passengers, which increases the crash risk.

Consumer Reports compiled a list of new and used vehicles that provide balanced performance in CR tests, have had average or better reliability, come with standard ESC, and did well in independent crash tests. In alphabetical order:

   ● Acura: TSX

   ● Chevrolet: Equinox (V6, 2010-2012), Malibu (4-cyl., 2008 or later)

   ● Ford: Focus sedan (2009-2011), Fusion (4-cyl. and hybrid, 2010 or later)

   ● Honda: Accord (4-cyl., 2008 or later), Fit (2011 or later)

   ● Hyundai: Elantra (2011 or later), Elantra SE (2008-2010), Elantra Touring, Santa Fe (V6, 2007-2009, no third-row seat), Sonata (4-cyl. nonturbo, 2006 or later), Tucson (2010 or later)

   ● Infiniti G25

   ● Kia: Forte (2010 or later), Optima (nonturbo, 2010 or later), Soul, Sportage (4-cyl., non turbo, 2011 or later)

   ● Mazda: 3i Touring (2009 or later), 3s Touring or Grand Touring (2007 or later), 6i (4-cyl., 2009 or later)

   ● Mitsubishi: Outlander (2007 or later, no third-row seat)

   ● Nissan: Altima (4-cyl., 2010 or later), Rogue, Sentra (2010 or later)

   ● Scion: xB (2008 or later)

   ● Subaru: Forester (nonturbo, 2009 or later), Impreza, (nonturbo, 2009 or later), Outback Sport (2008 or later), Legacy 2.5i (2009 or later)

   ● Toyota: Camry (2010 or later), Corolla (2010 or later), Matrix (2010 or later), Prius (2010 or later), Prius V, RAV4 (2004 or later, no third-row seat)

   ● Volkswagen: Jetta (2009-2010), Golf (2010 or later), Rabbit (2009)

Updated daily, claims to be the “go-to website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news, and car-buying information.” CR's ongoing Twitter feed is at @CRCars.

Consumer Reports says it is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports claims over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.


More Links to Archived Reports on Senior Citizens and Driving

Families Should Check Driving Ability of Senior Citizens During Family Holidays

Consumer Reports Health offers tips for determining when to take the keys away from an older driver - Dec. 7, 2010

Seniors Account for Just 3 Percent of $99 Billion Annual Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes

CDC Study Finds Cost amounts to nearly $500 for each U.S. licensed driver in one year - Aug. 28, 2010

Elderly Drivers Do Not Lose the Ability to Detect Hazards, More Aware Than Youngest

However, older drivers claim other road users were responsible for putting them at risk and rarely considered themselves as responsible for hazardous events

May 26, 2010

AMA Issues Older Driver Safety Guide to Help Slow Leading Cause of Injury Deaths in Seniors

Per mile driven, fatality rate for drivers 85+ is nine times higher than for drivers 25 to 69

March 17, 2010

Senior Citizen Drivers Setting New Records – For Safe Driving, Fewer Fatal Crashes

Despite growing numbers, fewer older drivers died in crashes and fewer were involved in fatal collisions

Jan. 13, 2009

Florida Vision Test of Elderly Drivers Appears to Reduce Deaths, But No One Knows How

Importance of driving to older adults suggests that isolating the true mechanism responsible for the decline is in fact important

Nov. 10, 2008

Smart Features for Mature Drivers Introduced by AAA at NY Auto Show

Research finds features to improve safety, comfort of senior citizens – booming driver market: AAA starts senior driver Web page

March 25, 2008

Senior Citizens Not As Dangerous Behind the Wheel as Youngest Drivers

Not much more likely to cause auto accidents than baby boomers

July 19, 2007

Aging Committee Leaders Release Older Driver Report Calling for States to Share Information

Older drivers more likely than other age groups to suffer injuries or die in car crashes

April 19, 2007

Study Explores Why Older Drivers Have So Many Wrecks at Intersections?

Protected left turn arrows and roundabouts may help the oldest drivers

March 19, 2007

Elderly Drivers Increasingly More Likely to Die in Auto Accidents

Study looks at age, gender as major factors in severity of accident injuries

January 5, 2007

Senior Citizens Driving with Dementia Are Targets of Training for Physicians

Academy of Neurology says seniors with mild dementia should stop driving

December 28, 2006

Senior Citizens Who Give Up Driving may take Express Lane to Nursing Home

'Taking the keys has serious consequences for older drivers'

July 19, 2006

Senior Citizens By Far the Least Likely to Talk on Cell Phone While Driving

Older people are most likely to think it dangerous and least likely to do it

June 9, 2006

Senior Citizen Drivers: Are They Menace? Should Licensing Laws Be Tougher?

Safety advocates want tougher licensing for seniors and special vehicles

June 16, 2005

Study Implying Young With Cell Phones Drive as Dangerously As Elderly Ignores Facts

By Tucker Sutherland, editor - Feb. 4, 2005

New Guide Available Online to Those Concerned About an Aging Driver

July 6, 2004

Safety for Older Drivers is Goal of New Website

June 26, 2004


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