GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Making the car fit the driver and the small adjustments that can be made to make a vehicle both comfortable and safer was the goal of ECU Health and East Carolina University’s “CarFit” event on Tuesday.

The event was a collaboration between the ECU Occupational Therapy Department and ECU Health Medical Center’s Occupational Therapy practitioners.

“A 6-foot-4 person and a five-foot person may still be in the same vehicle, and unless it’s adjusted to them, it won’t be able to be optimized for safety,” ECU Health Occupational Therapy Clinical Specialist Helen Houston said.

The “CarFit” event was part of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, a time dedicated to show senior drivers about the resources available to them, so they do not have to hang up their keys.

“Driving is an occupation, so it is one of the things that we do focus on. A lot of people, when they get older, you know they want to be able to still be independent and do things on their own, so by working on driving and skills all related to driving, we’re allowing people to kind of have a better quality of life,” said Kelly Oglesby, a student volunteer from ECU.

Some seniors who participated said they just wanted to make the roads a safer place.

“Well, I drive a lot and I just wanted to be aware of maybe there are some things that I’m doing that I don’t know that I’m doing that will make it, especially on long trips, make it more comfortable and safe for me and my family that’s in the car,” said participant Donald Askew.

ECU Health said the “CarFit” training was a 12-point checklist to help drivers make safe adjustments to their vehicles such as seat belt positioning, steering wheel tilt, line of sight, and mirror use.

“So, we’re especially looking at the distance between the steering wheel and the body, making sure that the steering wheel is angled in the correct place, so if it was to deploy, it would hit the chest, not the face,” said Houston.

ECU Health also demonstrated gadgets to help drivers operate their vehicles and promote personal mobility. Items included wedge seat cushions to improve line of sight, extended mirrors to expand vision, and handy bars help with getting in and out of cars.

“So, all of these things are things that can really help older drivers if they were to be in even a fender bender… could help them survive it,” said Houston.

To find or register for a CarFit event, click here.

For more information on driver safety tools, click here.