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Baby Boomers Still Buying And Driving

By Michelle Mears-Gerst

Baby boomers may be retiring but this generation is still on the go, living life and getting around. They are very active and many are seeking vehicles to fit their older lifestyle with comfort and cost at the forefront.

With roughly 78 million baby boomers living in the United States car manufacturers are very aware of the buying power of this demographic and have created vehicles to address the baby boomer demands.

A study done by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute said that baby boomers are more likely to buy a car today than their younger co-horts.

Toyota is one company taking notice of the buying power among seniors. The Venza cross over sport wagon, priced around $27,000 is easier for aging drivers to climb into than a high-riding SUV. In 2011, Toyota marketed the Venza with commercials showing older drivers going on road trip adventures while their children stayed home in front of a computer. The Venza has won multiple awards ranging from the 2013 IIHS Top Safety Pick Award, Best Overall Value Eight out of Nine Years by IntelliChoice and the 2013 Cars.com American-Made Index.

Ford is also making a comeback with seniors. In the 1980’s the baby boomer generation steered away from vehicles made from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler due to poor quality coming from Detroit automakers.

The Ford Escape is a small SUV attractive to the senior market. In 2012, the Escape added a lot in technology. The starting MRSP price is $22,700 but seniors are often opting for the fully loaded package around $29,100.

Although baby boomers still want to have fun and live life to its fullest there are age related driving safety concerns to be considered when buying a car as an older driver. The smart technology features often targeted towards the younger inexperienced driver can also help the older less limber or slower to respond senior driver. Marie Montgomery, a spokesperson for AAA of Southern California recommends seniors stay clear of coupes that sit lower to the ground and choose a vehicle that is easy to get in and out.

Seniors should also think about buying a car with easy to operate gearshifts. The 2013 Lincoln MKX crossover SUV brings back a feature that from the 1960’s, a dashboard-mounted pushbutton gear selector. Push button features on a vehicle are perfect for arthritic hands.

Montgomery said senior drivers should look at the AAA senior driving database , “We have a database that allows seniors to pick a car that is right for them according to physical limitations such as diminished vision, leg strength, range of motion, hip or leg pain, being short-statured, overweight, having arthritis or other diminished motor skills.

AAA also recommends the CarFit program. CarFit was developed by the American Society on Aging in collaboration with AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association. It’s a community-based program providing a quick, yet comprehensive 12-point check of how well you and your car work together.

Ted Peterkin the AARP Driver Safety state coordinator for Maryland. Peterkin teaches a four-hour course that focuses on those ages 50 and over. The refresher course covers information on laws that may be new or have changed since many participants got their licenses.

Peterkin recommends seniors to take the AARP refresher course because seniors could also get a discount on their car insurance.

To find a CarFit program near you go to Car-fit.org