UAMS Northwest Clinic Offers Free Car Safety Checks for Older Drivers at April 16 CarFit Event

By Jon Parham

Appointments are not required but drivers are encouraged to call (479) 713-8630 to reserve a time for their checkup.

CarFit is national program developed by AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association that is designed to offer a quick, yet comprehensive check on how well an older driver and his or her vehicle work together. An estimated 10,000 U.S. drivers are turning 65 every day and mobility experts can help ensure those drivers find a better “fit” with their cars.

“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 Kandy Salter, an occupational therapist at the UAMS Northwest Outpatient Therapy Clinic. “CarFit provides older adults with the tools to understand and apply the safety features of their car.”

At a CarFit event, trained volunteers complete a 12-point checklist with each driver. Among the items checked:

  • Correct position of driver’s seat
  • Driver’s ability to easily reach pedals
  • Proper adjustment of mirrors

Occupational therapists also are available to provide a consultation, if needed, which will teach drivers how to maintain and improve their driving health. The therapist also can offer information to address individual needs, such as local community resources on exercise, nutrition and other programs to help keep older drivers safe on the road.

“It is critically important that mature drivers make safety a personal priority,” Salter said. “Driving today is more difficult than ever because of increased traffic congestion, longer commute distances, new technology and faster speeds. Older drivers can take important measures to mitigate the stress associated with driving.”

Older drivers also can check with their local AAA club or AARP office to take a driver safety refresher course or look into occupational therapy driving evaluation programs for individualized assessments and recommendations. CarFit represents an extension of those classroom programs and an opportunity for older drivers to make sure their personal vehicles are adjusted to their needs.