Program teaches seniors about car safety and more

CarFit is a free nationwide program that teaches drivers, specifically seniors ages 50 and older, about car safety.

“CarFit is an educational program. The goal is to ensure that older citizen drivers are comfortable sitting in their car and that they know where all the safety features are,” said Peter Kosarin, coordinator for the CarFit program in New Jersey.

Kosarin runs CarFit events throughout New Jersey from mid-May to mid-November. The program was created by AARP Driver Safety, AAA and the American Occupational Therapy Association.

CarFit technician Robert Clarke says as people age, things like vision problems, arthritis, and limited mobility can affect how people drive their cars — which is why he assesses each person as if they were about to start driving.

He studies their habits in the event there’s something he can correct. Along with reviewing new laws, Clarke has a 12-point check list he runs through with each driver, including a very basic question: “Do you always wear your seat belt?” Clarke gets different answers from different drivers and many say they only use their seat belts for long car rides.

“Most of your crashes are going to be within a couple miles of your residence,” he said.

He also ensures drivers are sitting at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel, in addition to helping drivers learn about new buttons, lights and sounds in their car.

Clarke encourages any resident to attend a CarFit event. It can help anyone drive away more empowered and confident.