CarFit is an educational program that provides a quick, yet comprehensive assessment of the “fit” between a vehicle and its driver. The program also provides information and materials on community-specific resources that could enhance driving safety and increase mobility for older drivers.
The Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) in partnership with CAA have worked together to bring CarFit to Canada. The program was initially developed by the American Automobile Association (AAA), AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).
How does it work?
Take advantage of a CarFit clinic offered in your community to see how well you and your vehicle work together. A trained CarFit Technician will ask several simple questions and complete a 12-point checklist. The entire process takes about 20 minutes and participants will receive a summary of their vehicles' fit, recommended adjustments and adaptations, and a list of local resources in their area.
Who should receive an assessment?
Physical change and decreased range of motion can make vehicle safety especially challenging for older drivers. CarFit is committed to educating older drivers on how they can adjust and interact with their vehicles in ways that optimize comfort and safety.
Cannot attend a CarFit clinic?
Having a trained CarFit Technician do the assessment is the best way to spot potential issues. In the event you cannot attend a CarFit Clinic, the following tips can help when performing a self-evaluation.
- Motorists' line of sight should be at least three inches above the top of the steering wheel.
- The distance between the breastbone and steering wheel should be at least 10 inches to allow adequate room for the air bag to safely deploy.
- Motorists should be able to adjust their seats for good visibility and easy access to vehicle controls.
- In the event of a crash, especially a rear-end collision, a properly adjusted head restraint can help prevent neck injuries like whiplash. When adjusting the head restraint, the centre of the restraint should be about three inches or less from the centre of the back of the head, not against the neck.
- Motorists should be able to easily reach the vehicles' pedals without having to stretch and should be able to completely depress the brake pedal. If a driver is straining to reach the pedals, it can be tiring and cause leg muscle fatigue. Motorists should also be able to move their foot easily from the gas to the brake pedal without lifting their heel.
- The proper way for an adult to wear a seat belt is for the lap belt to fit low and tight across the hips and pelvis, not on the stomach area that contains soft tissue. The shoulder belt should come over the collarbone, away from the neck, and cross over the breastbone, fitting snugly across the chest. The shoulder belt should never be behind the back or under the arm.
Motorists should also be able to:
- Reach the shoulder belt and buckle and unbuckle the seat belt without difficulty.
- Get in and out of the vehicle easily.
- Sit comfortably without knee, back, hip, neck or shoulder stiffness or pain.
- Turn their head to look over their shoulder when changing lanes and backing up. Many collisions related to lane-changing are the result of the driver’s inability to check the vehicle’s blind spots adequately.