October 08, 2007 15:05 ET

AAA Texas Helps Mature Drivers Find Their Perfect Fit

CarFit Improves Vehicle-Driver Harmony for Senior Drivers

IRVING, TX--(Marketwire - October 8, 2007) - With the goal of keeping seniors safe on the roads, driving experts are staging a new safety program designed to help seniors find out how the "fit" of their personal vehicle affects their driving.

What:  CarFit

Who:   AAA Texas, occupational therapists, and traffic safety

Where: Highland Springs Retirement Community, 8000 Frankford Rd.,
       Dallas, TX

When:  Tuesday, October 9, 2007, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

CarFit is an innovative national program designed to give a quick comprehensive check on how well an older driver and their vehicle work together. The event provides motorists with community traffic safety resources intended to keep them driving safely longer.

"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," said Paul Flaningan, AAA Texas spokesperson. "CarFit provides older adults with the tools to safely navigate our roadways and stay connected to their communities when they must limit or stop driving."

At tomorrow's CarFit event, trained volunteers will complete a 12-point checklist with each driver. Among the items checked: Is the person positioned correctly in the driver's seat? Can the person reach the pedals easily? Does the person know how to adjust mirrors properly or have the flexibility to use the mirrors?

After visiting the trained volunteer professional, the driver will consult with an occupational therapist who, if needed, will discuss ways drivers can maintain and improve aspects related to their driving health. The therapists will 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 roads.

The value of the CarFit program is evidenced in the evaluation ratings provided by the trained volunteers and participants and by follow-up questionnaires sent to the participants 30 days after completion of the program. In looking at evaluation ratings from the 2005 pilot CarFit events:

--  Nearly every volunteer (98%) recommended the continuance of CarFit
    events in their area and 9 out of 10 stated that they would be very likely
    to volunteer for future CarFit events.
--  Almost 9 out of 10 participants (89%) said they would recommend CarFit
    to friends or relatives.
--  Ninety percent of participants said that the CarFit event was useful.
--  Thirty-seven percent of CarFit participants had at least one red flag
    with 19% having one red flag identified and 18% having two or more. Red
    flag issues are addressed by occupational therapists or driver
    rehabilitation specialists at the event and are considered high-priority
    safety issues.
--  Of those participants responding to the 30-day follow-up
--  88% reported making at least one change after attending the CarFit
--  Changes to the head restraint (54%), left outside mirror (42%), right
    outside mirror (34%), the distance between chest and steering wheel (30%),
    and the line of sight above the steering wheel (28%) were cited as the most
    frequent changes by participants to improve the car/driver fit.
--  Almost 8 out of 10 (78%) of participants said that they already
    discussed the CarFit event with friends or relatives.
--  Since participating in the CarFit event, nearly 60% of respondents
    said that they discussed their own driving with friends, relatives, a
    physician, or other health care providers.

The CarFit program was created by the San Francisco-based American Society on Aging and developed in collaboration with AAA (American Automobile Association), AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association.

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