To help older drivers to remain mobile, the Automobile Club of Southern California and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey will host a CarFit event. Designed to help seniors over age 55, CarFit helps older drivers learn how the effects of aging can change the way they fit in their vehicles and how their driving can be affected. The event is held annually here in recognition of National Occupational Therapy Month.
The free appointment-only CarFit event will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29, at Rancho’s center, 7601 E. Imperial Highway. Appointments can be made by calling Mary Hernandez at 562-401-7464.
CarFit’s 12-pt., 15-minute checklist on the driver and their car includes evaluating:
- Seat-belt adjustment
- Car pedals
- Seat and steering wheel positioning
- Visibility through windows and mirrors
Often adjusting these vehicle components will help senior motorists drive more comfortably and safely. Rancho Los Amigos occupational therapists specializing in driver rehabilitation will offer ways a driver can maintain and strengthen their driving health, including places to go for further evaluation.
California has the most adults over age 65. “If 75 percent of seniors are licensed in 2015, that adds up to 6.5 million licensed mature drivers,” said Anita Lorz Villagrana, the Auto Club’s community affairs and traffic safety manager. “And, more and more, seniors are driving more miles than 20 years ago,” she added.
“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 Lorz Villagrana.
Occupational therapists are concerned with functional abilities, not age, when assessing driving skills, according to Rancho’s Occupational Therapy Driving Evaluator, Gerontologist and Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist Sandra Okada. “OT’s” assess how a motorist might continue to drive, whether with adaptive equipment or modified techniques so they may get to their activities and appointments, she added.
CarFit was developed by the American Society on Aging in partnership with AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Assoc.
Lorz Villagrana noted that aging affects vision, flexibility strength, range of motion, and even size and height. “CarFit helps drivers make adjustments so they’re more comfortable and controlled behind the wheel,” she said.