CarFit program helps keep seniors safe behind the wheel

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The Bella Vida senior center hosted a CarFit class on Tuesday to help make car travel safer for seniors.

CarFit is an educational program hosted by the AARP and the California Highway Patrol to provide comprehensive reviews of how drivers of advanced age can better optimize the safety of their driving experience. 

“We host this program to make sure that the seniors are still fit to drive and to make sure the ergonomics inside the car are still fit to them,” said Josh Greengard, public information officer for the California Highway Patrol’s Newhall-area Office. “It’s all about safety and making sure that the operators are feeling safe behind the wheel; because if you don’t feel safe, you won’t be driving safely. In California driving is a necessity so we’re here to make sure that our seniors can still do things like get to the grocery store or go to meet their family.”

Greengard said there are 23 senior volunteers who host this program once or twice per year. Part of the criteria that the CarFit volunteers checked for was whether the drivers can properly reach the pedals, how to properly adjust the mirrors to counteract blind spots, proper line of sight above the steering wheel and ability to properly locate the car horn. 

Bill Dawe has volunteered with the CarFit program for three years, and as a former salesman who puts tens of thousands of miles on his car each year, he said he likes participating in the program to make sure that other seniors know how to adjust their driving practices as they grow older.

“When my neighbor was 92 years old, they had to take the car away from him because he would drive pedal to the metal, and how he never got into a crash I have no idea — but that’s part of what made me want to be part of this program,” Dawe said. “When you’re older your reaction time and senses decrease so you have to tone down how you drive. I want to make sure that the 55-and-older community knows this information and to keep drivers alive and safe.”

Lupe and Alonso Zenteno discovered the CarFit program through an announcement from the senior center and said they were very glad they came to the class. 

“We learned so much today that we didn’t know before, like how to measure the proper distance between you and the steering wheel or how to adjust the mirrors correctly,” Lupe said. “We just want to be sure we’re continuing to drive properly, so we’re very thankful for this opportunity, not just for our safety but for all the people on the road around us.”

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