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Drivers stay fit with safety check

At right, Brittni Mattocks of Wilson, an occupational therapy graduate student, goes through the CarFit checklist with driver Linda Gibbs of Greenville. Photo by Cliff Hollis.
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (May 25, 2010)   —   At 51, William Lewis isn’t considered an older driver. But he found plenty of benefits to participating in a CarFit safety program hosted by East Carolina University’s Department of Occupational Therapy on Saturday.

“These are good things to make people aware of, like blind spots in your mirror,” said Lewis, who brought his champagne 2009 Ford F150 in for a test to see how well he and his truck “fit” or work together.

The goal is keep older drivers on the road as long and safe as possible, said Dr. Anne Dickerson, professor of occupational therapy and organizer of the event held May 22 at Eastern Pines Church of Christ.

“It’s good for everyone, not just older drivers,” she said.

Seven occupational therapy student volunteers took drivers through a 12-point checklist to measure everything from steering wheel height to length from foot to pedal to rear view mirror positioning and driver mobility. The assessment took less than 30 minutes and showed how simple adjustments could improve a driver’s safety and comfort.

Adjusting mirrors was the most common correction, since drivers should not be able to see their car in their rear view mirror, but the area around the vehicle.

“A lot of people’s mirror placement is really off,” said Brittni Mattocks, a master’s occupational therapy student from Wilson.

Linda Gibbs of Greenville had the mirrors of her white Ford van adjusted. “My husband changes them, then I have to fix them,” she said.

Other tips from CarFit:

  • Drivers should have a clear line of sight three inches above their steering wheel.
  • Ten to 12 inches is the ideal distance to maintain between your chest and wheel.
  • Ability to easily adjust the driver’s seat for visibility and access to controls.
  • Properly adjusted headrests to prevent neck injury.
  • Easy access to gas and brake pedals.
  • Seat belt fastened comfortably and properly (shoulder harness should not be under your arm).
  • Ability to get in and out of your vehicle easily.   



Contact: Crystal Baity | 252-744-3764