Carfit event in Downey gives older drivers refresher on safety tips

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Experts said driving skill depends on a person's health rather than age. AAA predicts about 90 percent of 70 million older Americans over 65 will have driver's licenses by 2030. (KABC)

Experts said driving skill depends on a person's health rather than age. AAA predicts about 90 percent of 70 million older Americans over 65 will have driver's licenses by 2030.

Lori Julian wants to continue driving for as long as she can, but lately, she admits, the road can be a tough place. She checked into a free Carfit event for mature drivers to get safety tips.

"It was just so comforting to know that there are ways you can lift (your seatbelt) up and lift it down. I feel more empowered," she said.

Getting the right fit is important no matter what age you are. The 12-point checklist includes how far you sit from your steering wheel, how low your seat is and how to adjust your mirrors.

"Some of them might share the car with their husbands and they jump in the car and the seat and mirrors aren't readjusted, so they're driving that way," said Sandra Okada, with the Rancho Los Amigos National Rehab Center

Panoramic rear view mirrors can help with blind spots. Occupational therapists from the center use cushions to help seniors see over the steering wheel.

Portable handy bars help seniors get in and out of their cars. Sandra Okada said programs such as Carfit help address California's growing population of elderly drivers.

"Our program, we go in the car with the senior and assess their driving habits, and maybe they need a refresher course," Okada said.

The annual Carfit event, sponsored by the Southern California Automobile Club and AARP, also allows therapists to introduce eventually the idea of "letting go of the wheel" in a non-threatening way.

Julian said she enjoyed the refresher course because she's "old enough to know better, but young enough to learn."

She offers other drivers the following message: "Patience, patience, patience," she said.

Related Topics:
healthhealthy livingdrivingsenior citizenselderlycarAAADowneyLos Angeles County
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