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Older Drivers: Does Your Car ‘Fit’ You?

Changes in vision, flexibility, and range of motion can make driving more stressful and reduce our control behind the wheel as we age.  But don’t just hang up the car keys.  Older drivers can improve comfort and safety on the road by making basic adjustments to their vehicle.

For a free demonstration of how to make comfort- and safety-enhancing adjustments to their vehicle, the public is invited to attend a Hawaii “CarFit” event on April 24 (8 a.m. – 12 p.m.) at the MEO Building in Wailuku, Maui.  Registration is required: call 270-7308.  If you’re interested in being a CarFit coordinator, call the registration line to attend a training session on April 23.

CarFit is designed to provide a quick but comprehensive check of how well your vehicle ‘fits’ you.  A trained professional asks participants simple questions and completes a 12-point Carfit checklist.  The entire process takes about 20 minutes and participants leave with a list of recommended car adjustments.  The program is offered as a free public service by AARP Hawaii, AAA Hawaii, and the Occupational Therapy Association of Hawaii.

How effective is the CarFit program?  Based on follow-up surveys of checklists completed at events in 10 American cities, more than a third (37 percent) of program participants had at least one critical safety issue that was addressed.  One in 10 participants was seated too close to the steering wheel, and about 20 percent did not have a proper line of sight above the steering wheel.

What kind of adjustments are part of the CarFit checklist?

-Clear line of sight over the steering wheel – at least three inches above the wheel.
-Plenty of room between your chest and the front airbag and steering wheel.
-A seat you fit in comfortably and safely – easy access to controls.
-Properly adjusted headrests – with the center of the headrest against the back of your head, not against your neck.
-Easy access to break pedals – without having to stretch too far.
-A seatbelt that holds you in position and remains comfortable as you drive.

Ill-fitting vehicles can make driving uncomfortable and unsafe.  CarFit can also help open a dialogue with older drivers about safety issues as they age.

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