Seniors Steered Toward Safer Driving

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The numbers show drivers over the age of 65 are at greater risk for being in auto accidents, but a few adjustments - and a lot of awareness - can help them stay safer behind the wheel, longer.

AAA Kansas' recent Car Fit sessions aimed to help senior drivers make those adjustments. Jim Hanni of AAA Kansas says Car Fit is a way to go through a checklist of things that can assist drivers in avoiding a crash or, if they do get in an accident, to be as safe from injury as possible.

The Car Fit checklist goes through about a dozen major points, from operating the turn signals, to operating the gas and break pedals, even adjusting the steering wheel and seat belt correctly.

Adjustments to the mirrors also are a big focus. Gerald Appelhans, a physical therapist with Stormont-Vail HealthCare, says we are not as flexible as we get older and often can't turn our heads as far from side to side. He says older drivers are taught how to adjust their mirrors to reduce their blind spot, so they don't need to look as far over their shoulder to see.

Any issues identified are met with strategies to cope, which could involve devices like removable handles to assist in getting out of a vehicle, a pull strap for ease in grabbing the seat belt, and various panoramic or spot mirrors.

The formal Car Fit sessions are over, but AAA has a new web site with resources for older drivers. It's www.seniordriving.AAA.com.

Stormont-Vail's HealthWise 55 program assisted with the Car Fit checklanes during May.


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