Researchers have found older driver safety is compromised by introduced seat cushions and pillows.
Researchers have found older driver safety is compromised by introduced seat cushions and pillows. NeuRA

Getting car comfy may come at a cost

ROAD safety experts are warning older drivers to careful about using car comfort accessories.

Researchers at the Transurban Road Safety Centre at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) found people over 65 are nine times more likely to be seriously injured during a car accident. This is because their increased fragility makes them more susceptible to injury.

Chest injuries are the primary cause of death for older drivers and poorly positioned seatbelts increase the risk of such injuries. NeuRA's research found common accessories typically used by older Australians to improve comfort in cars may increase the chance of injury during a crash.

These accessories include items that some drivers use to sit on, or place between their back and the seat, such as seat base cushions, seat back cushions, back support or head-rest cushions.

Associate Professor Julie Brown recommends drivers check whether seats can be adjusted before using an accessory.

"If a driver can adjust their seat instead of sitting on a cushion or placing something behind their back, it will likely be much safer," she said.

Transurban Road Safety Centre researchers are now taking their findings to clinicians, motor vehicle safety experts and older drivers to develop a set of safety recommendations about how to use these accessories in cars and which ones not to use. This is expected to be complete later this year.


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