TACOMA, Wash. – Most people depend on their shoes to help them get around comfortably and safely—so would they wear ones that didn’t fit? Not likely. We may not think of ourselves as “wearing” our cars, but the same idea of “fit” applies—and there are adjustments we can make to improve our driving comfort and safety.
A free, national program called Carfit can help you make adjustments in your car that will maintain the vehicle’s safety and operability. Sponsored by AARP, AAA, the American Society on Aging, and American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), the program helps keep older drivers behind the wheel for longer
This year a free CarFit event will be held at University of Puget Sound on Monday, October 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Weyerhaeuser Hall on campus. The new health sciences building is located at the corner of North 11th St. and North Lawrence St. in Tacoma.
Students in the final year of the university’s occupational therapy master’s program, a professor, and a certified driving rehabilitation specialist will take you on a tour of your car’s features and give you tips on how to adjust them to suit your individual needs. Each evaluation will take about 20 minutes. Participants may make a reservation for a specific time or just show up with their vehicle. See below for contact details.
While older adults tend to be among the safest drivers, changes to aging bodies can put them in jeopardy. Mature drivers are more physically fragile and more likely to be seriously injured or killed if an accident occurs. By assessing seat depth or height, head-rest positioning, and rearview or side mirror positioning, CarFit specialists can considerably increase the comfort, function, and safety of drivers and their passengers.
Last year, the CarFit event offered by the School of Occupational Therapy at Puget Sound helped 25 drivers tailor their personal fit within their vehicles. Participants said it was valuable to learn how to modify the mirror for improved viewing, position their seat to prevent unnecessary air-bag trauma, and make adaptations to improve their ability to get in and out of the vehicle.
Why are occupational therapy students involved? Occupational therapists work in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, and people’s own homes, with the common goal of helping people do their day-to-day activities in the safest and most effective way. The Puget Sound faculty and students see the free CarFit program as an opportunity to contribute to the local community. CarFit participants, in turn, provide the students with “hands-on” experience in one of the many skills they will need in their future careers as occupational therapists.
—Written by Michelle Gangi ’14, Kjirsten Winters ’14, and Lucretia Berg
To make a reservation or for further information contact Lucretia Berg at 253.879.1565 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.Lucretia Berg is a visiting clinical assistant professor of occupational therapy at University of Puget Sound.
To learn more about the national CarFit program visit: car-fit.org
For directions and a map of the University of Puget Sound campus: pugetsound.edu/directions