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Senior Driving Specialists to Hold CarFit Event in Palm Desert

(PALM DESERT, Jan. 27, 2012) — The Automobile Club of Southern California will partner with the Palm Desert Area Chamber of Commerce and the Riverside Office on Aging to host a CarFit event for older drivers at the chamber offices on Thursday, Feb. 16.
CarFit helps senior drivers over age 55 learn about how the effects of aging change the way they fit in their vehicle and how their driving can be affected.  A CarFit consists of a 12-point., 20-minute checklist on the driver and the car, which includes a safety belt, foot pedals, vision and mirrors adjustment to ensure that drivers are in a safe driving position. CarFit also offers resources in the community so seniors know where they can go for further evaluation regarding exercise, nutrition and use of adaptive devices for safe, independent driving.
The CarFit event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the chamber, 72559 Highway 111, 92260.  Advance appointments scheduled every 20 minutes can be made by calling Lora Babilo at the Auto Club Community Programs and Traffic Safety Dept. at 714-885-2312.  Driving specialists, educators, health care professionals and traffic safety specialists will provide the CarFits.
“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 Auto Club Community Relations and Traffic Safety Manager Anita Lorz Villagrana.
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,” Lorz added.
“I am delighted that the Office on Aging has forged a partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California to offer Riverside County older adults the opportunity to participate in a CarFit assessment,” said Ed Walsh, Office of Aging Director.  “CarFit has been proven to provide aging drivers with tools and techniques that can extend their ability to drive safely and thus enhancing their independence in the community.”
CarFit was developed by the American Society on Aging in partnership with AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Assoc.
The number of seniors in California is growing rapidly and the state has more adults over age 65 than any other.  “By 2030 there will be more than 30 million older drivers on U.S. roads,” 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.           
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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.