[This piece was written by Donna Stressel, OT, of Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital’s Driver Rehabilitation Program.]
A recent study released by the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that in 2009 more than 33 million drivers in America were over the age of 65, and that number is expected to increase to more than 70 million by 2030.
That’s good news, as multiple studies have shown that drivers over age 60 are generally some of the safest on the road. They are more likely to avoid unsafe behaviors such as speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, talking on cell phones, and not wearing seat belts.
That said, it is important for elderly drivers, and their loved ones, to make sure they are road-ready and driving as safely as possible. An excellent first step is to take part in a free CarFit screening.
Free CarFit Program
Helping mature drivers drive more safely.
Thursday, June 14
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Glen Eddy
One Glen Eddy Drive, Niskayuna
Created by the American Society on Aging and developed in collaboration with AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association, CarFit is designed to help mature drivers find out how well they currently fit their personal vehicle, as well as highlight actions they can take to improve their safety.
The CarFit program reviews twelve key areas of the driver’s fit to their personal vehicle. Examples include:
- Knowing how to properly adjust mirrors to minimize blind spots.
- Positioning on the gas and brake pedals to reduce fatigue in the driver’s leg and improve reaction times.
- Reducing the risk of serious injury by ensuring the driver is at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel.
- Discussing safety features available on the driver’s car and how best to use them.
Occupational therapists will be on hand to provide a consultation, if needed, and teach drivers how to maintain and improve aspects related to their driving health. The therapist can also provide information addressing individual needs, including information about local community resources on exercise, nutrition, medication safety and other programs to help keep the driver safe on the road.
Driving today is more difficult than ever before due to increased traffic congestion, new technology and faster speeds. CarFit can help older drivers take important measures to mitigate the stress associated with driving.
Local partners in traffic safety will be conducting CarFit check-ups on Thursday, June 14, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at The Glen Eddy, One Glen Eddy Drive in Niskayuna. The event is free and open to the public. Additional events will be scheduled for the Capital Region through the summer and fall.
Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital’s Driver Rehabilitation Program offers a comprehensive array of services for elderly drivers, adolescents with learning needs, and the disabled, including clinical assessment, on-the-road evaluation, driver rehabilitation and consultation/education about adaptive driving services. For more information on the program or CarFit programs in the area, call 518-386-3601.