Q. Do you know of any auto safety products that can help seniors with older cars?
My 80-year-old father, who drives his beloved 2004 Toyota Avalon, is still a good pretty driver but he has limited range-of-motion, which makes looking over his shoulder to back-up or merge into traffic very difficult.
A. To help keep your dad safe and extend his driving years, there are several auto aids and new safety technology products that can be added to his car to help with various needs.
Here are several to consider:
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To help increase visibility when backing up, a simple product that can be added to the car is an AllView Mirror ($60, AllviewMirror.com). This is an oversized rear-view mirror that attaches to the existing mirror to widen the rear visibility and eliminate blind spots so the driver can see traffic without significant neck or body rotation. It also helps during parking.
Another option is a backup camera. These come with a weatherproof, night vision camera, which attaches to the license plate on the rear of the car. When the car is in reverse, it sends live images wirelessly to a small monitor that mounts to the dash or windshield.
The Yada Digital Wireless Backup Camera ($140, Amazon) with 4.3-inch dash monitor is a good option. Or, if you don’t want a monitor in the car, the Auto Vox Wireless Backup Camera ($140, Amazon.com) displays the images in a rear-view mirror.
BLIND SPOT HELPERS
To help see better when switching lanes or merging into traffic, buy some “blind spot mirrors.” The small, convex mirrors stick to the corner of the side view mirrors to improve side and rear vision. They can be bought in any store that sells auto supplies for a few dollars.
Or, for a high-tech more comprehensive solution, there’s the Goshen Blind Spot Detection System ($239, Goshers.com). This system uses small sensors installed on each side of the rear bumper and monitors the sides of the vehicle. They alert the driver with a light indicator, installed inside the car, if any object detected within 10 feet.
For extra safety, you might want to consider a collision warning/lane departure device, such as the Mobileye 630. This is a smart camera that attaches to the windshield and will alert the driver if he speeds, drifts out of his lane, gets too close to the car in front of him or gets too close to a pedestrian or cyclist.
Sold only through retailers (see Mobileye.com/en-us/find-a-retailer), the device can be bought and installed by a Mobileye-certified technician for about $1,100.
If you’re interested in something less expensive, there are dashboard cameras that can double as collision-warning systems.
Garmin’s Dash Cam 35 ($129, Amazon.com), for example, monitors up to 130 feet in front of the vehicle, so if your dad is going 30 miles per hour or faster, it will issue audio and visual alerts of impending collisions.
Another product that can help keep your dad safe in emergency situations is the Hum (Hum.com). It will automatically call emergency services if your dad has been in an accident. It also sends alerts to drivers’ phones if there’s a mechanical problem and lets drivers press a button if they need roadside assistance.
Hum works in cars built in 1996 or later, and costs $10 per month with two-year required subscription, and one-time set-up and activation fees totaling $50.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.