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Programs to Keep Older Drivers Safe

Added bonus: A 5 percent discount on insurance premiums

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Does your car "fit" you?
AARP also offers CarFit, a 20-minute, one-on-one session designed to adjust vehicles to fit drivers' bodies and the physical limitations that often come with age.

Participants drive their own automobiles to a session with CarFit, which is a collaboration of AARP, the American Automobile Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Side-view and rearview mirrors are checked for maximum visual coverage, especially for someone who has less neck mobility. Seat positions are evaluated for optimal safety. Other adjustments — such as a pedal extender — may be recommended.

Stan Rothman, 79, of Lords Valley, an AARP volunteer and national coordinator for CarFit, offered an example:

An occupational therapist provided a work-around for a CarFit participant whose arthritis made it nearly impossible for her to grasp car keys. The key was inserted into a soft, ball-like device large enough to hold comfortably.

Unlike some states, Pennsylvania does not have any special requirements for older drivers who renew their licenses.

However, each month, 1,900 drivers over the age of 45 are chosen randomly for retesting when they renew their licenses. Those drivers are required to get a physical exam from their own doctors and to take an eye exam administered by an eye doctor or by licensing officials. If the exam results indicate a driver's exam is required, one will be administered.

To find a class, enter a ZIP code in the AARP Driver Safety course locator. To volunteer as an instructor, email rolandvonderheide@juno.com. To volunteer with CarFit, email Rothman at stanruth@usa.net.

A free seminar, "We Need to Talk," is for friends and family members who want to have a discussion about when to give up the keys and plan alternatives.

Kathryn Canavan is a writer living in Wilmington, Del.

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Video Extra

Older drivers are more fragile than their younger counterparts and are generally less able to withstand the impact from accidents.  Learn how properly fitting your car better protects your safety and that of others on the road.

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