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Are you 'fit' to drive?

Older drivers face special challenges behind the wheel of a car. Find out how road-ready you are by participating in CarFit this Wednesday, Sept. 29, at the Walmart in Sequim.

The program, which runs from 1-4 p.m. in the Walmart parking lot, was developed by AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapist Association. It's a free, interactive and educational program designed to improve older driver safety.

Trained volunteers provide assistance to ensure the safest "fit" for older drivers and their vehicles. CarFit technicians complete a 12-point checklist to identify safety issues. Drivers should be at least 10 inches from the airbag, with the head restraint adjusted properly. The steering wheel should be tilted so a deployed airbag will contact the driver's chest and not the face. All drivers should be able to see at least three inches over the steering wheel and the mirrors must be properly adjusted.

If a problem is identified, the driver then confers with an on-site occupational therapist trained in driver assessments.

Two occupational therapists, Liz Klawitter from Clallam County and Wendy Norquist from Jefferson County, will perform the driver assessments,

"As we age, changes in our vision, flexibility, strength, range of motion and even size and height may make us less comfortable and reduce our control behind the wheel. CarFit provides older adults with the tools to understand and use the safety features of the vehicles more advantageously," said Linda Pfafman, Jefferson County Traffic Safety Task Force coordinator.

Organizers say safety often can be improved by simple adjustments but sometimes the only way to solve a driver safety issue is by choosing a different vehicle. Statistics collected from past CarFit events indicate that 90 percent of the participants found the inspections useful. More than a third had at least one red flag and were directed to an occupational therapist.

The inspections are by appointment only and take about 20 minutes. To make an appointment, call Joe Borden at 683-3408 or e-mail him at borden@olypen.com.

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