Older Driver Safety Awareness Week is December 3–7, 2018 and University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in San Marcos is joining a national effort to provide local senior drivers help to find a better “fit” with their cars for comfort and safety. Faculty and students from the university’s occupational therapy (OT) program are hosting CarFit, a safety program designed to help older drivers and their families developed by AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). CarFit is designed to give a quick, yet comprehensive check on how well an older driver and their vehicle work together.
Under the leadership of OT faculty member Dr. Jennie DiGrado, University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences will conduct CarFit check-ups in San Marcos on Tuesday, December 4 from 9:00 a.m. – Noon at the San Marcos Senior Center (111 Richmar Ave, San Marcos, CA 92069). You can register for the event by calling Sylvia at (760) 744-5535 or by email at email@example.com
“As we age, changes in our vision, flexibility, strength, range of motion and even size and height may make us less comfortable and reduce our control behind the wheel,” Dr. DiGrado said. “CarFit provides older adults with the tools to understand and apply the safety features of their car.”
At a CarFit event, OT faculty and graduate students will complete a 12-point checklist with each driver and their vehicle. Among the items checked:
- Correct position of driver’s seat
- Driver’s ability to easily reach pedals
- Proper adjustment of mirrors
Occupational therapists (OTs) will also be available to provide a consultation, if needed, that will teach drivers how to maintain and improve aspects related to their driving health. OT’s 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.
“It is critically important that mature drivers make safety a personal priority, and we’ve been involved with CarFit events for several years” Dr. DiGrado added. “Driving today is more difficult 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.”
Dr. DiGrado suggests that older drivers can also check with their local AAA club or AARP office to take a driver safety refresher course for older road users 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,” she said.
Older Driver Safety Awareness Week aims to promote understanding of the importance of mobility and transportation to ensuring older adults remain active in the community—shopping, working or volunteering—with the confidence that transportation will not be the barrier to strand them at home. By 2030, there will be an estimated 58.9 million people age 65 and older -that’s 1 in 5 people. They’re expected to represent 1 in 4 licensed drivers at that time. Personal mobility is critical for healthy aging, but as our bodies change as we age, ill-fitting vehicles can make it uncomfortable and unsafe to drive. Additionally, due to fragility, older drivers have the highest crash death rate per mile of everyone except teenagers.