Less than a month ago, on August 25th, I turned 27. That day came part and parcel with all of the textbook emotions implicit with a late-twenties birthday; reflection, pride and the inevitable crisis’ in reaction to my impending 30’s. On top of all of this, this date commemorated another watershed moment in my life: It was eleven years to the day that I was awarded my driver's license. Having been on the road for over a decade, it was interesting to evaluate how my views as a driver had gradually shifted. When I was sixteen, driving represented so much more than a mere means for transportation. It was newfound freedom and independence that I had been anticipating since I could remember. As one grows older, it’s interesting how something that once incited so much empowerment can slowly grow mundane - to the point that you don’t even give it a second thought.
Since joining forces with my official partners at CAA, I’ve proudly regained my sixteen-year-old perspective. For the first time in a decade, I see driving for what it truly is: a privilege. There are so many commonly unrecognized variables that can stand between a driver and the open road - many of which can’t be controlled. Currently, a driver’s age and mobility are hot-button topics in the conversation of who should and shouldn't be behind the wheel. This really puts my 27-year-old anxieties in perspective.
CAA recognized the importance of the freedom that driving comes with and wants to improve the longevity of every driver’s lifespan while maintaining safe road conditions for all parties. With this directive in mind, CAA launched the CarFit Program in partnership with the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists and with support from Saskatchewan Society of Occupational Therapists.
At the CarFit clinic, which was hosted in Saskatoon earlier this month, a team of trained CarFit technicians worked one-on-one with each participating driver. Throughout the process (about 15 minutes long) these professionals demonstrated the proper protocol surrounding your vehicles mirrors, seats, steering wheels, head restraints and more. The driver remained seated in the driver seat for the duration of the clinic, communicating with the technicians through the window. Following the 12-point checkup, individual concerns were addressed, and the occupational therapists offered education and resources. This was a judgment-free zone that is intended to better inform the participants.
The best part is - IT’S FREE!
Although this event is catered towards senior drivers, many lessons apply to drivers of all ages. I personally, am young (despite my early-onset midlife crisis') and quite able-bodied. Even with these advantages, I learned a lot during my short session. For the most part I was abiding by standard road procedures in terms of the positioning of my mirrors, steering wheel, and head restraints. Even so, a few minor adjustments were made to optimize my safety as a driver. More importantly, I was given an in-depth explanation as to why these adjustments were necessary. This insight will help me understand how to maintain “CarFit” standards for the remainder of my years as a driver.
Following my appointment, I had a chat with another participant named Cindy who sprightly refers to herself as a “mature driver”. This was her first time attending the CarFit clinic.
“It’s a reality check. It’s also just a really fun event,” she said, “there’s no pressure. I felt very comfortable!”
She went on to explain the importance of a one-on-one approach for drivers as opposed to blanket teachings.
“My experience might be different than someone with mobility problems. Going forward, the age thing will become more and more of an issue and people may be forced to give up that sense of freedom. Awareness of mobility limitations is important.”
Cindy often attends CAA events and is a long-time devoted member.
“It’s like having a good pal with you. It’s a sense of security knowing that someone is always there to help you when you and your vehicle are in need. It’s universal, it’s reliable and it’s been around for a long time and with good reason.”
To learn more about the CarFit Program visit: caask.ca/carfit.