AAA: seniors twice as likely to be killed in car crashes

In an effort to keep senior drivers safe, AAA offered free CarFit checks Tuesday at St. Leonard Living Facility in Centerville. According to the organization, those over 65 are twice as likely to be killed in a crash compared to younger drivers. Last year, more than 8,000 senior drivers were injured in crashes, 150 of them Ohioans.

Cindy Antrican with AAA told News Center 7's Adam Marshall the checks are quick and to the point.

"It takes about 20 minutes to go through a CarFit check. The technicians receive training and we also have occupational therapists on hand," Antrican said.

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CarFit assessments help identify senior related health problems and offer referrals for assistance. Trained technicians check the steering wheel tilt/position, distance the driver sits from the steering wheel, line of sight above the steering wheel, position of the driver-to-gas/brake-pedal and help adjust mirror settings to eliminate blind spots.

A recent study released by AAA found more than 70 percent of senior drivers had experienced health conditions that impact muscles and bones such as arthritis, hip/knee replacement and joint pains, causing some in the study to reduce their driving.

"I know I'm not sitting right in my car and I drive, I drive, and I drive,” said Carolyn Zaidain, a Dayton resident who received a fit check. “I love my car but there are things that I don't feel comfortable."

"Comfort equals safety. If a driver is uncomfortable behind the wheel, if you're not positioned properly, we're talking about an air bag that comes out of the steering wheel at 200 mph. Often times with older drivers, they're too close to the steering wheel, “Antrican said.

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According to AAA, seniors represent the fastest-growing segment of drivers, with current projections suggesting that a quarter of all drivers will be over the age of 65 by 2025. Drivers in this age group have an overall crash rate comparable to 20-and-30-year-olds, but result in a higher death rate per mile driven than any other group.

"As soon as I saw this on the internet, I thought, OK I'm going to be there,” said Zaidain. "I just learned that I was holding my hands in the wrong position. I've done that for 100 years and now they're changing me."

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