Occupational Therapy students and faculty recently conducted their second CarFit event of 2009. CarFit is an educational program that offers older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles "fit" them. This national program is coordinated between the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
This year's events were held in Hendersonville at the Hendersonville AAA Club and the Hendersonville First United Methodist Church with older adult drivers being assessed in their personal vehicles. The OTD students were required to become CarFit Technicians through a training conducted by Dr. Ruth Ford, Associate Dean and CarFit Event Coordinator. Dr. Ford has spoken at the Tennessee Occupational Therapy Middle District Association as well as AARP State of Tennessee Annual Leadership Conference on CarFit as part of their Driver Safety Program. The next AARP training is set for November 20th at Henry Horton State Park.
The CarFit program provides information and materials on community-specific resources that could enhance their safety as drivers, and/or increase their mobility in the community. Older drivers are often the safest drivers in that they are more likely to wear their seatbelts, and less likely to speed or drink and drive. However, older drivers are more likely to be killed or seriously injured when a crash does occur due to the greater fragility of their aging bodies.
Driver safety programs improve adult driver safety by addressing cognitive abilities and skills, however, older drivers can also improve their safety by ensuring their cars are properly adjusted for them. A proper fit in one's car can greatly increase not only the driver's safety but also the safety of others. Graduates of Belmont’s OT Programs are learning first hand how to assure driving safety for older drivers through driver assessment and intervention.