CarFit

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Car Fit logo

The CarFit program was implemented in Canada in 2014.

It’s a joint partnership between CAA and the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT).

CAA clubs and CAOT representatives organize events to help mature drivers evaluate how they fit in their cars for maximum safety and comfort.

Additionally, the program provides education to promote driver safety in mature drivers.

As we age, changes in vision, flexibility, strength, range of motion, height and even medication can make us less comfortable behind the wheel. To minimize the risk of injury and ensure proper vehicle operation, we recommend all drivers over 65 receive a CarFit education session.

CarFit members group photo

How it works

Visit a CarFit clinic offered in your community to see how well you and your vehicle work together. A trained CarFit Technician will ask a series of simple questions and complete a 12-point checklist. In about 20 minutes, participants will receive a summary of their vehicles’ fit, recommended adjustments and adaptations, and a list of local resources in their area.

Get more information

Buying the Right Car for You

There are features available on some vehicle models that can make driving easier and, in some cases, safer. CAA recommends that you consider the following factors – as well as value, of course – when considering a vehicle for purchase:

Safety features

such as seat belts and the positions and types of airbags

Ergonomics

that can reduce operator fatigue and discomfort, such as adjustable pedals and seats

Design features

such as keyless entry and push-button starters, that are very helpful for people with arthritic fingers who don’t want to be fumbling with keys in a dark parking lot

Comfort

such as ease of entry and exit, leg room and size of control buttons

Vehicle Features that Help Address Health and Mobility Issues

Our sister organization in the United States, AAA, worked with the University of Florida Institute for Mobility, Activity, and Participation to help identify smart features for senior drivers to optimize their comfort and safety. These features are presented by the types of mobility or health issues that a senior driver might have, such as limited range of motion in the back or knees, or arthritic fingers.

Limited Knee Range of Motion and Hip or Leg Pain

Six-way Adjustable Seats
These require less strength to adjust. At a minimum, the seats should offer six-way adjustment: forward and backward, up and down, and seatback forward and backward.

Low Door Threshold
Low door thresholds or “sills” make entry and exit easier, reducing the need to lift the leg over the threshold.

Comfortable Seats
The ideal seat height is between mid-thigh and lower buttocks. A low-slung sports car may look snazzy, but it requires extra strength and flexibility to get into and out of the vehicle. Likewise, a tall SUV requires extra effort to climb up into a seat.

Leather or Faux Leather Seats
The smooth material can ease entry and exit of vehicle.

Adjustable Foot Pedals
With a push of a button, the driver can adjust the accelerator and brake pedals, a feature especially helpful for petite drivers to reach the pedals while ensuring they are a safe distance (about 30 centimeters) from the airbag mounted in the steering wheel.

Arthritic Hands and Limited Strength

Four-Door Models
Four-door models make entry and exit easier, especially if the car has a rear seat. Two-door cars also have longer, heavier doors, requiring more strength to open and close.

Thick Steering Wheel
Thicker steering wheels require less hand and wrist strength to grip and handle.

Keyless Entry
Operated by a push-button on the key fob, this feature is good for those with arthritic hands who find it painful to twist a key.

Power Mirrors
Power mirrors and seats are easier to adjust for drivers with limited strength or arthritis.

Larger Dashboard Controls
Audio and climate controls with large features and contrasting text are easier to see and manipulate, and thus less distracting.

Keyless Ignition
Utilizing a dash-mounted push-button instead of a traditional key, keyless ignition is beneficial to those with stiff or painful fingers who find it difficult to twist the ignition key.

Automatic Tailgate Closer
Power rear lift gates or rear hatches benefit seniors by preventing struggling with a heavy rear hatch, thus requiring no strength to open and close trunk or rear door.

Automatic Side Door Openers
Requires no strength to open and close side doors.

Heated Side Mirrors
This feature eliminates the need to scrape ice in inclement weather.

Limited Range of Motion in the Back, Neck, Shoulders, and/or Arms

Tilt and Telescoping Steering Wheel
The extra adjustments help the driver find a safe distance from the front airbag, as well as a comfortable position that alleviates knee, back, hip, neck or shoulder pain.

Large, Wide-Angle Mirrors
For those who have difficulty turning or twisting to look to the rear when changing lanes or backing up, large wide-angle mirrors can improve visibility and assist with blind spots.

Comfortable, Heated Seats with Lumbar Support
Lumbar support can help improve comfort for many drivers, especially those with back pain. Heated seats can help alleviate tension in the back.

Adjustable Seat Belts
Assist drivers in reaching for or buckling/unbuckling.

Automatic tailgate closer
Requires no strength or balance to open and close trunk or rear door.

Automatic Side Door Openers
Require no strength or balance to open and close side doors.

Heated Side Mirrors
This feature eliminates the need to scrape ice in inclement weather.

Large Rear Window
For those who have difficulty turning or twisting to look to the rear when changing lanes or backing up, larger rear windows can improve overall visibility and reduce turning required for backing up.

Rear Backup Camera*
Also known as backing aids, either rear view video cameras or parking distance sensors can be beneficial to older drivers with difficulty with mobility and neck movement.

Active Parallel Park Assistance*
Active park assist helps drivers parallel park with the touch of a button, requiring less twisting of the upper body.

Front and Rear Sensors and Warning Systems*
Sensors monitor immediate space ahead of and behind vehicle to minimize driver twisting and upper body rotation.

Foot-Engaged Emergency Brake
A foot-engaged emergency brake can be easier to use than a hand-operated brake.

*These systems are not intended to supplement a driver’s visual checks. They are NOT replacements for mirrors and should not be used as such.