by Beth Schuerman – December 1, 2017
CarFit is an educational program created by the American Society on Aging and developed in collaboration with AAA (American Automobile Association), AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association.
The program is designed to help older drivers find out how well they currently fit their personal vehicle, to highlight actions they can take to improve their fit, and to promote conversations about driver safety and community mobility. A proper fit in one’s personal vehicle can greatly increase not only the driver’s safety but also the safety of others.
Three quick examples underscore the importance of road safety to the CarFit program, which reviews 12 key areas of the driver’s fit to the personal vehicle:
Example one: Knowing how to properly adjust one’s mirrors can greatly minimize blind spots for drivers who may wish to change lanes. A recent survey found 32 percent of senior drivers had inadequate views from side mirrors.
Example two: Good foot positioning on the gas and brake pedals is important. If the driver is reaching with his or her toes to press on the pedals, it can cause fatigue in one’s leg and slowed reaction times.
Example three: Drivers run a risk of serious injury if they are sitting closer than 10 inches to the steering wheel. Data shows that 59 percent of older drivers are positioned at an improper distance from steering wheel.
The encouraging news is that many of these issues are resolved by a 20-minute, 12-point CarFit checkup. A local team of trained technicians work with each participant to ensure the vehicle is adjusted properly for maximum comfort and safety.
Alaska Injury Prevention Center has trained CarFit technicians and hosts free local CarFit events and individual 20-minute checkups. A local occupational therapist and CarFit technician is available if needed to assess the need for adaptive devices to improve the driver’s fit or comfort in the car.
“As we age, changes in our vision, flexibility, strength, range of motion and even size and height may make us less comfortable and reduce our control behind the wheel,” said Beth Schuerman, CarFit Event Coordinator and Project Director for Alaska Injury Prevention Center. “CarFit also helps older adults to understand and apply the safety and technological features of their car.”
Beth Schuerman is the Projects Director for Alaska Injury Prevention Center.