Actuarial table for drivers

My stepmother is looking for another car. She is 80 and in good health; aside from being a cancer survivor she doesn’t have any serious risk factors, and very comfortable financially. My father called yesterday and asked if I could predict how much longer she will be able to drive. I told him that the calculation was meaningless, since she should look to get a good resale value when the time comes.

If resale value weren’t a consideration how would you approach this problem?

1 Like

For my stepmother she wouldn’t be able to handle all of the newfangled technology that comes in new cars.

E.g., in my 2018 Prius, all* of the controls are on a computer-touch-screen. There are physical buttons for “turn the radio on/off”, volume, and temperature. If you want to adjust fan speed or which holes the air blows out of, find a non-pre-set radio station, or so many other things, you’ve got to use this touch screen.

But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is, the control you want is probably on a different “menu option” of the screen, so you need to poke around to bring up the right screen. Screen updating is horribly slow - especially when you’re cruising I-5 at 70mph (what can I say - she’s a slow driver), so the driver needs to be smart enough not to stare at the screen whilst all of this is going on.

My wife’s GLA & my daughter’s previous Lexus had a “joystick & button” system. I can’t stand driving their cars.

In conclusion, I would approach this problem by finding a level of technology in the car that the driver will be reasonably* comfortable with.

*“reasonably” includes the ability to learn - not necessarily needing to have this knowledge right now.

JM2C, ###

My stepmother has a decent grasp of technology, and if she has any questions her daughter lives nearby. She’ll want something technologically advanced when it comes to safety features.

Since this is true & she has a decent grasp of technology, I would target a “high end” vehicle since they’re most likely to have the latest safety features, comfort features, etc.

I’d be focused on crossovers and smaller SUVs. Getting in and out of a sedan gets harder as you get older.


Her old car is a Lexus so she’ll probably go that way

My father has had physical issues for years, so if they haven’t bought an SUV by now it probably won’t happen. They live in CA so fuel efficiency is a consideration for sure.

Lexus has some nice hybrids.
I suggest that you suggest something that you like.

She has 3 children and several grandchildren, so probably not next in line to get it…

Suggest something they won’t like.
Mazda Miata?

I’d have to get a very good price on any car with touch-screen technology for basic tasks. Things like voice-activated, fine I’ll learn that, but I despise anything non-tactile that you’re expected to use while driving.

I’d trust an elderly person even less using that, would never recommend it.

Anyway to answer your question, you should either find her a car or tell her it’s time to turn in her license.

It really should be your father’s problem to solve (assuming your father and stepmother are married.) Sounds like he’s concerned about being honest with her.

Quick and Dirty calculation: 10 years. Plus/Minus 10 years.

what kind of driving does she do? is it just to the store/mall/grocery or does she still get on the highway and travel? how many miles a year do you think she is doing? in reality, does she really just need a golf cart?

def think a small crossover/suv for slight height (entry/exit and vision). agree with all the other comments about making sure it isn’t too teched out. If sje likes the lexus, then maybe steer her to a toyota which will have more options. (esp since “luxury” cars likely have more of the tech whistles.)

1 Like

Tesla and a Chauffeur?

She does a lot of local driving and goes on the occasional trips, and with all the sprawl in CA I think she easily does 10-12k miles per year. Plus it’s very hilly terrain where she lives so definitely no golf cart. My mother primarily does local driving, I think she would be better off ditching the car and doing rideshare but tough to go carless when you’ve had a car your entire life.

1 Like

I cannot :iatp: this enough.

I’d love to see a breakdown of losses for tactile vs. touch-screen-enabled vehicle losses. I bet it’s at least 10% higher for the touchscreens, even normalized for higher new vehicle value and accounting for unreliable shitboxes.

1 Like

Maybe the P/C folks can tell me: do new cars have a higher accident rate in the first year due to driver unfamiliarity with the car? Could this also apply to recently-bought used cars?

That is a lot of miles for an 80-year old. If she is driving that much at 80, then I predict another 2-3 years of those kind of miles followed by a decrease in miles due to her becoming less comfortable with some of the excursions. Driving and going places helps keep people feeling alive.