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Among other benefits, the self-driving cars promised for the not-too-distant future are expected to safely extend the independent motoring mobility of senior citizens and the otherwise physically infirm.

An AAA report notes that 70 percent of drivers age 65 or older suffer from a variety of maladies, ranging from arthritis to diminished visual acuity, which could adversely affect their performance. Seniors are almost twice as likely to die in car crashes than drivers aged 55 to 64, and that average risk increases to four times greater among those 85 and older. For that segment of society, autonomous rides can't come soon enough.

In the meantime, automakers are offering a wide variety of features across their model lines these days that can help keep those with declining abilities keep driving comfortably and safely – albeit perhaps within limits – for an extended period. These range from simple conveniences like heated seats and self-dimming mirrors, to the latest accident avoidance systems.

Whether you’re an older car buyer or are helping an aging parent fit into a new set of wheels, be sure to settle for nothing less than a vehicle type and model that fits your frame, needs, and budget, and comes with as many of the following items as you can afford.

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