Auto Club Offers CarFit In Redlands For Seniors

(REDLANDS, July 21, 2008) — The Automobile Club of Southern California and occupational therapists from Loma Linda University will conducts a CarFit event for older drivers at the Redlands Community Senior Center on Aug. 6.

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 event will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m at the center, 111 West Lugonia, 92373. Appointments are required and can be made by calling Alexis Denny, (714) 885-2312.

Auto Club representatives and 12 occupational therapists will administer the 12-point., 15-minute CarFit checklist on the driver and the car, which includes recommending or making needed adjustments to seat belts, seats, foot pedals, mirrors and driver habits to ensure that senior drivers are “correctly fitted” to their vehicles for safety and visibility.

CarFit provides information on ways a driver can maintain and strengthen their driving health. The program offers resources in the community so seniors know where they can go for further evaluation regarding driving-related health matters, including exercise, nutrition and use of adaptive devices for safer driving.

CarFit 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 Association.

“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.

During the CarFit pilot program, adjustments to the head restraint (54%), left outside mirror (42%), right outside mirror (34%), the distance between chest and steering wheel (30%) and the line of sight above the steering wheel (28%) were cited as the most frequent changes by participants to improve the car and driver fit, according to Lorz.

She 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,” Lorz 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 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.