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Pitt Students Help “Fit” Cars to Their Older Drivers


People over 65 are the fastest-growing population in the United States, and recent studies suggest that many of these older adults outlive their driving abilities by eight to ten years. To assist local seniors who want to improve their safety on the road and extend their time behind the wheel, occupational therapy students from the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh will participate in CarFit, a national educational program developed by the American Society on Aging in partnership with AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association, which works with older adults in the community to ensure that their cars “fit” them properly.

CarFit helps improve car safety by providing a free, comprehensive check of how well an older driver and a vehicle work together.

On Oct. 27, occupational therapy students and faculty will hold a CarFit assessment at the Forbes Tower parking lot on Sennott Street. Older drivers can bring their automobiles to this location, and the occupational therapy personnel will assess how well the cars fit them by completing a 12-point checklist reviewing the driver and the vehicle. Among the items checked:

* Is the person positioned correctly in the driver’s seat?
* Can the person reach the pedals easily?
* Does the person know how to adjust mirrors properly or have the flexibility to use the mirrors?

The entire process takes about 15 minutes, and the driver leaves with recommended car adjustments and adaptations, a list of resources, such as local occupational therapy and driver-safety courses, and greater peace of mind.

“The goal of this program is to keep seniors safe and independent. By a simple preventative ‘check up’ such as CarFit, we can help older adults continue to participate in their community and in activities that are important to them,” said Pamela E. Toto, M.S., adjunct faculty member in the occupational therapy department and coordinator of this CarFit event.

CarFit is a program for licensed drivers age 50 and older who own a registered vehicle. Call the University of Pittsburgh department of occupational therapy at 412-383-6620 to reserve a place. For additional information about the CarFit program, please visit or contact your state AARP office by calling 888-687-2277 or your local AAA office by visiting

The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences was established in 1969, and today is dedicated to moving lives forward through academic research, technology design and rigorous training to educate the next generation of health professionals who will help others reach their fullest potential. As one of the university’s six Schools of the Health Sciences, the SHRS is the academic partner to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which is associated with a variety of multidisciplinary centers, including the Facial Nerve Center, the Jordan Balance and Vestibular Laboratory, Sports Medicine Institute, Centers for Rehab Services and the Comprehensive Spine Center. The school also has established the Center for Assistive Technology, the NIDRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center, and HERL, the Pitt/VA Human Engineering Research Laboratories. For more information about SHRS, visit the school’s Web site at


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