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AAA releases safest cars for seniors list

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 09 2012 06:04:27 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 10 2012 04:59:08 AM CST

Safe car for seniors

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Elderly driver numbers are skyrocketing.  Now, AAA is out with a list of the safest new car models for seniors.

Sunday afternoons mean one thing at the Lehigh Senior Center.

"Playing pinochle," said Norman Ziegenfuss of Kintersville, Bucks Co.

At 89 years old, Zigenfuss still drives his Mercury Marquis all the way to Allentown for his weekly card game.

Although elderly crash rates are relatively low, according to AAA, their death rate is far higher than any other age group.

"This is a huge issue," said Theresa Podguski with AAA's East Penn regional office.

According to the auto club, 90 percent of seniors have health issues that impair their driving.

"Arthritis, joint pain, glaucoma, and cataracts," said Podguski, "which can affect their vision, which can affect their flexibility and their mobility."

Now, AAA is out with new list of which car models are safest for seniors, based on which health condition they have.  Some of the features the group recommends are keyless ignition systems, seats and foot pedals that are adjustable, and large, easy-to-read buttons.

Richard Lanshe's Chrysler minivan lands at the top of the rankings because of an easy-to-reach gear shift and a back-up camera.

"The automobile gives you freedom," he said.  "You can go anywhere you want, anytime."

As for Ziegenfuss, he has no plans to ditch the Marquis.

"I don't like a real small car," he said.  "If you get hit or something, you ain't got a chance."

It's a chance at a safer ride.

To see the full list of cars, go to aaa.com.