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Staying Safe on the Roadway

Improve the Fit of Your Vehicle

Carfit® is a community-based program developed by the AARP, AAA, and the American Occupational Therapy Association to help older drivers improve the “fit” of their vehicle:
 
  • For their safety and comfort;
  • To promote conversations among older adults and their families about driving safety; and
  • To link adults with local resources to help them drive safer longer. 
The program involves a “checkup” where trained volunteers look at 12 items including the following: 
 
  • Clear view over the steering wheel 
  • Enough distance from the front airbag 
  • Proper positioning of seat and mirrors 
  • Ability to use the foot pedals 
  • Proper seatbelt use and fit   
The CarFit Web site has more information about the program and a list of events. 

Smart Features for Older Drivers 

Almost 90 percent of drivers 65 and older are dealing with health issues that affect driving safety. Yet only one in 10 older adults is driving a car that meets their needs, according to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. AAA suggests the following features to help with  health conditions:  
 
  • Automatic Transmission
  • Seatbelt adjuster 
  • “Handybar” to help you get out of the car 
  • Turn signal extenders
  • Left foot gas extension – to help drivers with right side weakness
  • Auto-dimming mirrors
  • Expanded or convex mirrors - to expand the driver’s field of vision 
  • Easy-locking seatbelts 
  • Visor extenders 
  • Zero effort steering - for drivers with limited arm movement
  • Thicker steering wheels
  • Steering wheel covers to improve grip 
  • Steering knob - for drivers with low arm strength
  • Larger dashboard controls and buttons
  • Dashboard displays with contrasting text
  • Hand controls
  • 6-way adjustable power seats
  • Seat back support cushions to ease back pain or to help see over the steering wheel 
  • Keyless ignition 
  • Doors that automatically lock and open  

Wear Your Seatbelt 

The best way to protect yourself during a car crash is a seatbelt. It can save your life and prevent severe injuries. Drivers should wear the seatbelt low and tight across the hips, not across the stomach. The shoulder belt should come over the collarbone, away from the neck and cross over the breastbone. It is dangerous to wear a seatbelt behind your back because it will not protect you. Oregon law requires that all drivers and passengers be properly secured with a seatbelt or safety harness. Children must ride in approved child safety seats.

Avoid Using Navigation and Communication Systems 

Navigation and communication systems can distract the driver from the task of driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that you only use these features when you have stopped the car and shifted into park.

Position Vehicle Mirrors 

When driving, it is important to have a good view of the front, sides and rear of the vehicle. You should adjust your rear view and side mirrors before driving to make sure you have good visibility. Remember to do this after another person drives the vehicle or when a mechanic has serviced the vehicle. 
 
Note: Side mirrors do not get rid of “blind” spots so drivers should look over their shoulder before changing lanes.

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