Niagara Gazette

December 4, 2013

Program held during 'Older Driver Awareness Week'

Staff Reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — New York state is throwing its weight behind an initiative geared toward senior citizens who get behind the wheel during “Older Driver Awareness Week,” which runs through Friday. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, by 2020 there will be an estimated 40 million licensed drivers age 65 and older, with more than 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day.

As a result, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee have named this “Older Driver Awareness Week” and have partnered with mobility and safety experts for a program called CarFit, an effort to help senior drivers become familiar with the importance of having a vehicle “fit” them for both comfort and safety.

CarFit is a national program developed by the American Automobile Association, the American Association of Retired Persons and the American Occupational Therapy Association and is designed to give a comprehensive check on how well an older driver and their vehicle work together. 

Those facets include a 12-point checklist such as the correct position of a driver’s seat, a driver’s ability to reach pedals and mirror adjustments. 

“It is critically important that mature drivers make safety a personal priority,” said Barbara J. Fiala, DMV commissioner and GTSC chairwoman. “Driving today is more challenging 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 can also 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.