Extend the life of an older car (and driver)

Savvy Senior

Dear Savvy Senior: 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 pretty good driver but he has limited range-of-motion, which makes looking over his shoulder to back-up or merge into traffic very difficult.

Inquiring Son

Dear Inquiring: To help keep your dad safe and extend his driving years, there are a number of auto aids and new safety technology products that can be added to his car to help with various needs. Here are several to consider.

Backup aids

To help your dad increase his visibility when backing up, a simple product that can be added to his car is an AllView Mirror ($60, AllviewMirror.com). This is an oversized rear view mirror that attaches to his existing mirror to widen his rear visibility and eliminate blind spots so he 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” Dash Monitor is a good option. Or, if your dad doesn’t want a monitor in his car, the Auto Vox Wireless Backup Camera ($140, Amazon.com) is one that displays the images in a rearview mirror.

Blind spot helpers

To help your dad see better when switching lanes or merging into traffic, purchase your dad some “blind spot mirrors.” These are small convex mirrors that would stick to the corner of his side view mirrors to improve side and rear vision. They can be purchased 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 that monitor the sides of the vehicle, and will alert your dad with a light indicator, installed inside the car, if any object is detected within 10 feet.

Safety products

For extra safety, you may also want to consider a collision warning/lane departure device for your dad’s vehicle like the Mobileye 630. This is a smart camera that attaches to the windshield and will alert your dad 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), this device can be purchased and installed by a Mobileye-certified technician for around $1,100.

If you’re interested in something a little less expensive, there are also 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 mph 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). This nifty device 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.