CarFit is an excellent, FREE program offered by AAA, AARP, and AOTA.
What is CarFit for the older driver?
CarFit is an educational program that offers older adults the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles "fit" them.
The CarFit program also provides information and materials on community-specific resources that can enhance a driver's safety, and/or increase their mobility in the community.
Why is CarFit important?
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.
How is CarFit check completed?
At a CarFit event, a team of trained technicians and/or health care professionals work with each participant to ensure they "fit" their vehicle properly for maximum comfort and safety. A CarFit check takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.
Assess Driving Abilities
The following are some tips from Caring.com and the National Safety Council on how to assess a parent's driving abilities:
- Take several drives with your parent at the wheel, and observe with an open mind.
- Take note whether a parent is reluctant to drive.
- Watch for slowed reaction time.
- Notice his or her awareness of the driving environment.
- Check the car for signs of damage.
- Check with trusted friends and neighbors to get their opinions.
According to the National Safety Council, adult children of mature drivers would rather talk about funeral arrangements than dicsuss taking away the car keys. Seniors experience a significant loss of independence when told they're no longer able to drive. Family support and access to public transportation can help minize the impact of losing a driver license.
How to Discuss Driving Abilities with an Aging Parent
- Be honest.
- Speak from the heart.
- Speak from a position of concern rather than ridicule.
- Be prepared with a network of support and alternative transportation options.
Driving refresher courses can help older drivers continue to be safe drivers. Here are some organizations that offer courses:
AARP Smart Driver Course
AAA's Florida Mature Driver Program
Senior Driver Improvement Course
Laws Affecting Seniors
The Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles has specific driver license laws that can affect senior drivers. Which ones will impact you?
- License is renewed every 6 years for drivers over 80; every 4 years with driving infractions.
- Vision tests are mandatory beginning at age 80.
- Written test and/or road test may be required based on:
- driving history
- signs of physical or mental impairment based on observations by the driver license clerk, or a report by a law enforcement office, physician, family member or another member of the public.