Could your car accessories kill you?

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Older Australians make up just eight per cent of licensed drivers, but account for over 14 per cent of road fatalities.

The reason for this over representation of older drivers is the focus of a new study, which is investigating the link between road fatalities and comfort accessories regularly used by older drivers.

In a recent review of 380 drivers aged 75 years or older, it was found that while all drivers wore seatbelts, over 25 per cent also used an adaptive comfort accessory such as seat belt padding, seat base cushions, or back support.

Dr Julie Brown, the senior research scientist at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA), is investigating the link and believes many of these accessories could be influencing the disproportionate number of older Australians killed and injured in car crashes.

“Previous research into child safety in cars has shown such accessories have a detrimental effect on protection provided by a restraint in a crash,” said Dr Brown.

“No guidelines exist anywhere in the world which detail acceptable designs of comfort and orthopaedic aids to be used in a car.”

There has been no previous research undertaken to find out if these aids are being prescribed by clinicians, and what evidence exists to support the use of adaptive comfort aids in Australia’s aged driver population.

“This study will examine the impact these aids have on crash protection and use the evidence to generate guidelines,” said Dr Brown.

The aged driver research program will resolve these unknown modifications and deliver guidelines for comfort and orthopaedic aids used by older passengers and drivers.

The results from the study will then be made available for immediate use by occupational therapists, physiotherapists and clinicians to ensure Australia’s ageing population maintains mobility without increased risk of injury in a crash.

What do you think? Do you use any comfort aids in your car while driving? Have you had an accident while driving with these comfort aids?

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 9
  1. 0

    We had this discussion last year. I suggest you look up the statistics. Older drivers are in fact safer than most age groups and you didn’t define older. (>74?) page 9
    Every age group other than the 65-74 has a higher death rate.
    Death by gender page 11 – woof.
    Accident rates 2014 hospital records list >64 far less than any other group short of the <16. Page 16-17
    Now if you agree that the elderly are more likely to be severely hurt in an accident then sure. However age vs ability of the driver are two separate things.
    We have lots of surveillance cameras these days. If the police want to get the idiots off the road I would say thank you – but stop the age, gender delineation and focus on drugs, alcohol and texting.

  2. 0

    I use a seat belt extension and a seat belt buddy. Being short and having to have the seat almost the full way up to the steering wheel, I need these items to prevent being choked every time I turn the steering wheel.

  3. 0

    The most dangerous part for any driver these days is the new cars, all the so-called conveniences and driving aides have caused more harm than good in my eyes, remember the 70’s when the super car scare occurred, most V8’s then were deemed dangerous with around 300hp, now-a-days the average 4 cylinder car is at least or more powerful and can be purchased by anyone, along with all the driving aides, and glitz and glamour and on screen arrays, there are so many distractions, after all, they still only have four tires under them, I honestly believe modern cars are more dangerous.

    • 0

      If its computer malfunctions it can cause serious accidents. It can cause your motor to rev too fast and it go faster without you using the accelerator (result $3000.00 damage), loss of power and respond well to more use of accelarator (know somebody who had the problem).
      If somebody collides with you and it activates the airbag, if you have any type of glasses on it can shatter them and you get cuts or glass in your eyes (advice given to an accident victim by Ambulance) I know a man who was told that after a car rear ended him on one corner of his car, he spun and rolled over. He managed to open a window and wriggle his way out. Some people wear padding on thw shoulder area of their seatbelts to prevent it rubbing on their neck/shoulder.

  4. 0

    I don’t use the word accident to describe a traffic incident. I try to analyse my driving all the time whilst travelling to see if I have made an error and to make driving smoother. Well into my eighties I still drive at traffic speed and assume that someone around me will do something stupid so I try to be ready for them. I can’t remember the last time I had a traffic incident and that isn’t because of Alzheimers.

  5. 0

    If a study was done on 10 million old people walking 100 metres along a road vs 10 million young people walking 100 metres along a road ….. guess what? It’s GUARANTEED there will be more fatalities and injuries among the old people compared to the young people.

    The same applies to cars.

    Older people are FAR safer drivers than young people, but on a “per capita basis” old people die in crashes MORE than young people. That’s simply because old people are more physically fragile. It’s not because of “accessories” in the car.

  6. 0

    It’s not my driving. It’s every other idiot on the road. My car is ‘ hurt’ more often T hospitals ( for my daughter, not me!). People keep hitting my car. D I’m not even in it! I got another one yesterday at a supermarket, I’m sorry, I blame 4 wheel drives. A lot of people who drive them. Can’t handle them. Hence ‘ clunk’ and scratch. There goes my poor car again! It’s Wful

  7. 0

    I think it has more to do with the fact that older drivers have a slowed down response rate and also less acute sight and hearing. Often they also drive slow which results in accidents when others take risks in passing them. In our mind we are all still 35, but the body and our senses are slowly weakening.



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