(GOLETA, Oct. 7, 2008) - Older drivers in Goleta Valley will be getting "fit" to drive safely as part of CarFit, a program to help seniors learn how the effects of aging change the way they fit in their vehicle and how their driving can be affected.
The program is sponsored by The Automobile Club of Southern California, the Area Agency on Aging, the Central Coast Commission on Senior Citizens and The Goleta Valley Community Center. It is part of the Goleta center's "Step Aboard" transportation event for local seniors.
CarFit helps senior drivers over age 65 learn about how the effects of aging change the way they fit in their vehicle and how their driving can be affected. The free by appointment only CarFit event for senior motorists will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 18, at The Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave. 93117. Appointments can be made by calling Amy Mallet, director of the Goleta center, at 805-683-1124.
The program consists of 12-point, 20-minute checklist on the driver and the car, which includes a seat-belt adjustment, foot pedals, vision and mirrors and other aspects to ensure that senior drivers are "correctly fitted" to their vehicles. An occupational therapist who specializes in driver rehabilitation will offer advice on ways a driver can maintain and strengthen their driving health, including community resources where seniors can go for further evaluation regarding exercise, nutrition and adaptive devices.
CarFit provides information on ways a driver can maintain and strengthen their driving health. CarFit offers resources in the community so seniors know where they can go for further evaluation regarding exercise, nutrition and use of adaptive devices for driving.
The CarFit program is designed to give a quick, comprehensive check by occupational therapists, senior living specialists and traffic safety health educators on how well a senior driver and their vehicle work together. CarFit was developed by the American Agency on Aging in partnership with AAA, AARP, and the American Occupational Therapy Assoc., Inc.
"The Auto Club believes that people should be able to keep driving as long as they want to - if they can do so safely," said the Auto Club's Anita Lorz, community relations and traffic safety team lead.
Lorz noted that age affects vision, flexibility, and strength, range of motion and even size and height. "Unless seniors make adjustments, those changes may make older drivers less comfortable and reduce control behind the wheel. CarFit gives older adults the tools to help them stay on the road safely," she said.
The number of seniors in California is growing rapidly and the state has more adults over age 65 than any other. "If 75 percent of seniors are licensed in 2025 that will equal 6.5 million licensed drivers," said Lorz.
California has no upper driving age limit and state law prohibits the Dept. of Motor Vehicles from using age alone to require a behind-the-wheel test at renewal. However, motorists 70 or older must renew their license in person rather than through the mail.