Making Your Vehicle Fit
One thing older drivers can do to adapt to factors that may affect their driving is to make individual adjustments to find their best person-to-vehicle fit. Checking to see that you and your vehicle fit well together can be as important to your safety as a mechanical checkup. These adjustments will help you feel more comfortable and in better control behind the wheel.
Six adjustments for a good fit:
• A clear line of sight over the steering wheel. Your line of sight should be at least three inches above the top of the steering wheel.
• Plenty of room between your breastbone (or chest) and the air bag in the steering wheel. The distance should be at least 10 inches to allow adequate room for the air bag to deploy.
• A seat you fit in comfortably and safely. Each time you drive, you should be able to adjust the seat for good visibility and easy access to controls.
• Properly adjusted head restraint. This can help prevent neck injury. When adjusting the head restraint, you may want to ask a friend to help you grasp the restraint and pull it up. The center of the restraint should be about three inches or less from the center of the back of your head, not against your neck.
• Easy access to gas and brake pedals. You should be able to reach the pedals without having to stretch too far, and you should be able to completely depress the brake pedal. You also should be able to move your foot easily from the gas to the brake.
• A seat belt that holds you in the proper position and remains comfortable as you drive. The lap belt should be placed low across your hips, and the shoulder belt should cross mid-shoulder and across your chest. A seat belt should never go behind your back or under your arm. You also should be able to:
a. Reach the shoulder belt and buckle and unbuckle the seat belt without difficulty.
b. Get into and out of your vehicle easily.
c. Turn your head to look over your shoulder when changing lanes and backing up.
d. Sit comfortably, without knee, back, hip, neck or shoulder stiffness or pain.
Position Your Mirrors to Minimize Blind Spots
You can adjust your mirrors to better view approaching and passing vehicles and greatly reduce blind spots:
• Before starting your vehicle, adjust the rearview mirror so it shows as much of the rear window as possible.
• While in the driver’s seat, place your head near the left window and adjust the left side-view mirror so you can just see the side of your vehicle.
• Then position your head near the middle of the vehicle, above the center console, and adjust the right side-view mirror so you can just see the side of your vehicle.
Want to Learn More about Making Your Vehicle “Fit”?
Click here to watch instructional videos on each segment of CarFit. You can also download the CARFIT (PDF) brochure for more information on how you and your vehicle work together.