Senior drivers in Gig Harbor, Washington, arrived in full force on the Cottesmore of Life Care campus for a CarFit event on Oct. 14.
Twenty-one drivers participated in CarFit to see how well they “fit” in their cars.
Occupational therapy and occupational therapist assistant students from University of Puget Sound and Bates Technical College were trained as CarFit technicians for this event by their professor, Sue Doyle. They reviewed a 12-point CarFit checklist with each driver and educated drivers about the position and the fit of seatbelts, headrests, steering wheels, gas/brake pedals and mirrors in their cars.
“Seniors are at an increased risk for accidents or injuries during accidents due to an ill fit in their vehicles,” said Thresa Kussman, assistant director of rehab and an occupational therapist. “This can be reduced visual access past the blind spot, inability to reach the gas or brake pedals properly or inappropriate distance between the steering wheel and the driver’s chest.”
Following review of the checklist, each driver met with an occupational therapist to discuss recommendations to improve safety and mobility when driving. OTs also suggested adaptive equipment that might help drivers.
One tool, for example, is a wide-angle rearview mirror drivers can use to increase the area of visibility. Another is a swivel cushion to allow drivers to get in and out of the vehicle more easily.
“This opportunity has helped me become aware of the importance of how an individual fits in his or her car,” said Jordan Kain, an OT student at the university.
CarFit was developed by AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association. The program creates an open environment that encourages the conversation about driving.