Older Driver Safety Awareness Week highlights the importance of mobility and transportation to ensuring older adults remain active in the community. Transportation should not be a barrier that strands anyone at home.
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) recommends older adults enhance their safety by participating in a CarFit event to ensure their car’s adjustments are expertly arranged for them. CarFit is a community-based safety program developed by AARP, AAA and AOTA.
Occupational therapy practitioners use a 12-point checklist to ensure that each driver’s car is adjusted properly for the best fit, and that the safety features of the vehicle are explained, increasing the likelihood that they are used optimally.
During a CarFit event, volunteers check for:
- A seat belt that holds the driver in the proper position and remains comfortable while driving.
- The tilt of the steering wheel and position of the airbag.
- Plenty of room (at least 10 inches) between the chest and the airbag housed in the steering wheel.
- A properly adjusted head restraint.
- A clear line of sight above the steering wheel and dash.
- Easy access to gas and brake pedals.
- Properly adjusted mirrors.
- Ability to see around the vehicle by reducing the driver’s blind spots.
- The ability to turn the vehicle’s ignition key with ease or operate an ignition system.
- Easy operation of vehicle controls including turn signals, headlights, emergency flashers, windshield wipers, and the parking brake, among others.
The entire process takes about 20 minutes and is free and confidential. The volunteers at CarFit never judge a person’s driving ability. Search for free, 12-point educational programs in your area with the CarFit locator.
If CarFit isn’t yet available in your location, consider our fact sheet on driving for some ideas on safety, especially in Indian Country. Automobile accidents disproportionately affect American Indian/Alaska Natives. American Indian/Alaska Native children, in particular, face dramatically higher rates of injury and death in collisions.
And most of these collisions are preventable.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 40 percent of auto crashes among American Indian/Alaska Natives involve alcohol and 56 percent of fatalities were not wearing a seatbelt.