CarFit: Adjusting Their Autos to Suit Older Drivers

Principal Investigator(s):

Erica Stern, Former Associate Professor, Physical Med/Rehabilitation

Project summary:

Seniors tend to be safe drivers, but as people age, changes in vision, flexibility, strength, range of motion, and even size and height can make them less comfortable in their car and more vulnerable to injury in even minor collisions. In response to these concerns, the American Society on Aging, in collaboration with AAA, the AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons), and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), created and developed CarFit, a free national program that assists seniors and others in making adjustments to their cars to prevent accidents and injuries. In addition to making cars safer for seniors, the program helps frame driving issues as those that do have solutions. In this project, researchers conducted a two-day training for a group of CarFit volunteers, many of whom were University occupational therapy students. After the training, the group held an event to help local seniors make adjustments to their vehicles. The free clinics, which average 30 minutes per person, consist of a quick 12-point checklist that looks at issues such as seat belts, headrests, and driver distance from the steering wheel. Several other available options include a Handybar, which helps seniors get into and out of a car, easy-reach seat belt handles, key holders to make it easier to start the ignition, and gas cap wrenches to help with fill-ups.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2008087
  • Start date: 07/2007
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Transportation Safety and Traffic Flow