(DOWNEY, April 1, 2009) — Older drivers in Downey will be getting “fit” to drive safely as part of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s CarFit program to help seniors over 55 learn how the effects of aging change the way they fit in their vehicle and how their driving can be affected.
The CarFit event for senior motorists is available by appointment only and will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 16, at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, 7601 E. Imperial Highway, 90242. Appointments can be made by calling Shenette Davis, 562-401-7464.
The program consists of 12-point, 15-minute checklist on the driver and the car, which includes reviewing 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.
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 Anita Lorz, the Auto Club’s community relations and traffic safety team lead.
“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 Lorz. The Auto Club has provided car “fits” to 1,500 senior motorists throughout the Southland.
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 Society on Aging in partnership with AAA, AARP, and the American Occupational Therapy Assoc.
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.
California has no upper driving age limit and state law prohibits the Department 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.