News & Events

Occupational Therapy Students and AAA Help Older Drivers Achieve Comfort and Safety Behind the Wheel
Seton Hall > News & Events 

OT Grad Students Help Area Seniors

The School of Health and Medical Sciences' Department of Occupational Therapy teamed up with AAA to offer senior drivers the opportunity to increase their safety and comfort when driving their vehicles. At the Crane's Mill Continuing Care Retirement Community in West Caldwell, NJ, 33 OT graduate students and a mobility expert from AAA conducted a "CarFit" program on April 18, taking 29 older drivers through a 12-point checklist with their vehicles. They recommended minor adjustments to improve the drivers' comfort and safety within their vehicles, including the demonstration of helpful products, such as leg lifters and gas-cap wrenches.

Assistant professor Meryl Picard, MSW, PhD, OTR, helped to organize this year's CarFit event. "Older adults are the fastest growing population of drivers in the United States. Many older adults living in New Jersey want to continue to drive as long as possible. Driving represents continued independence and allows them to take care of desired and needed community errands and activities," Picard says. "Training Seton Hall occupational therapy students to perform the CarFit checklist and the occupational therapy check-out provide a valuable service to the community and increase the students' awareness of the driving needs of older adults."

Read the Caldwells Patch news story about this year's event and see the photo gallery of students and faculty helping the Crane's Mill residents improve their personal mobility.

CarFit was developed by AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association partnership in response to the nation's increasing number of older drivers. By 2030, there will be an estimated 58.9 million people age 65 and older — or 1 in 5 people. These older drivers are expected to represent 1 in 4 licensed drivers at that time. Personal mobility is critical for healthy aging, but as individuals' bodies change as they age, ill-fitting vehicles can make it uncomfortable and unsafe to drive. Additionally, due to fragility, older drivers, even though they are among the safest drivers, have the highest crash death rate per mile of everyone except teenagers. CarFit is a tool that can work to help keep seniors safer behind the wheel.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program at Seton Hall University's School of Health and Medical Sciences.

For more information please contact:
Meryl Picard
(973) 275-2910


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