Local programs offered to improve driver comfort and safety
The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee have announced the week of Dec. 2-6 has been designated as "Older Driver Safety Awareness Week." For this week, the DMV and the GTSC have partnered with mobility and safety experts to offer a program called CarFit to help senior drivers become familiar with the importance of having a vehicle "fit" them for both comfort and safety.
"It is critically important that mature drivers make safety a personal priority," said DMV Commissioner and GTSC Chair Barbara J. Fiala. "Driving today is more challenging than ever because of increased traffic congestion, longer commute distances, new technology and faster speeds. Older drivers can take important measures to mitigate the stress associated with driving."
CarFit is a national program developed by the American Automobile Association, the American Association of Retired Persons, and the American Occupational Therapy Association. It is designed to give a quick, yet comprehensive check on how well an older driver and their vehicle work together.
At a CarFit event, trained volunteers complete a 12-point checklist with each driver. Among the items checked:
•Correct position of driver's seat
•Driver's ability to easily reach pedals
•Proper adjustment of mirrors
Occupational therapists are on hand also to provide a consultation, if needed, which will teach drivers how to maintain and improve aspects related to their driving health. The therapist can also provide information to participants addressing individual needs, including information about local community resources on exercise, nutrition and other programs to help keep them safe on the road.
Older drivers can also check with their local AAA club or AARP office to take a driver safety refresher course or look into occupational therapy driving evaluation programs for individualized assessments and recommendations. CarFit represents an extension of those classroom programs and an opportunity for older drivers to make sure their personal vehicles are adjusted to their needs.
By 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates there will be 40 million licensed drivers age 65 and older in the U.S. More than 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day.
For more information or to find a local CarFit event, visit www.car-fit.org.