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Program Created for Mature Drivers Offers Tips for Safety and Comfort

The American Society on Aging, along with the American Automobile Association, AARP, and the American Occupational Therapy Association, has created a program called CarFit, which uses a twelve-point checklist that allows mature drivers to enhance their safety and comfort. Seventy-seven-year-old John Castro, a retired Eastern Airlines worker with sixty years of driving experience, was one of the individuals who decided to try out CarFit in Pinecrest. Castro said despite all his years of experience driving, his “reactions aren’t as good as they used to be” and the technology on his Honda Civic confuses him sometimes. He also commented that “driving in Miami means that you always have to expect the unexpected. With the way traffic is in Miami, more people could use this. I’m driving off now feeling a little better and a little safer.”

The program enlists trained volunteers to review a variety of issues with each driver during a fifteen-minute inspection, including the following: Is the driver using a seat belt correctly? Are the mirrors set up to limit blind spots? Can the driver see over the steering wheel? Are the driver’s feet positioned correctly? Is the driver seated back far enough to allow an air bag to safely deploy in case of an accident? Drivers who have participated in the program have appeared eager to follow the recommendations. Many participants say that they have even learned some things about their cars that they did not know before they met with a program volunteer.

CarFit was tested in ten cities in 2005 and the tests revealed that more than thirty-three percent of three-hundred drivers had at least one serious safety issue, thirty percent could not properly see over the wheel, and ten percent were seated too close to the steering wheel. Fran Carlin-Rogers is a CarFit volunteer that travels around the state training other volunteers and helping to plan events like the one in Pinecrest. He said the most frequent problem among drivers that come to the events is wrong mirror position. There are also numerous comfort issues for mature drivers, such as experiencing pain when they grab for the seat belt or having a hard time exiting a vehicle. Thankfully, most of these issues have solutions, and CarFit volunteers have provided drivers with lists of resources to assist them.

In South Florida, an educational program offers tips for mature drivers to ‘fit’ their cars, January 9, 2013

Approximately nineteen percent of Florida drivers are sixty-five and older, and that number is expected to increase as the population gets older. Estimates provide that by 2030, one in five drivers will be a mature driver. That estimate means that in the United States as a whole, over thirty million seniors will be driving on the roads in about fifteen years. Due to the effect of aging on vision, range of motion, and reflexes, various organizations, including AARP and AAA, offer programs to assist older drivers.

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