- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Joanne Bard rolled into the parking lot of Providence Place in Drums, ready to learn the best and safest ways to drive her four-door sedan.

By the time she left, Bard, of Hazleton, knew the proper distance to sit away from her steering wheel, how to adjust her side mirrors to avoid blind spots and how to position her foot on the gas pedal.

The CarFit program helps with dozens of driving- and vehicle-related issues, said Dawn Bieber, a certified technician for the program sponsored by the American Society on Aging, American Automobile Association, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association.

“The purpose of the program is to reach out to older adults to make sure that they have a good ‘fit’ in their car,” said Dawn Bieber, an occupational therapist from Genesis Rehabilitation Services, which provides services at Providence Place.

Bieber greeted drivers as they arrived.

“Sit tight and I’ll come around,” she told Bard.

Bieber explained that she would go through a checklist to make sure Bard was operating the car safely.

“People also get new cars and they don’t know how to access all the bells and whistles,” she said as she found a steering wheel adjustment lever.

Bard also had a number of items on hand to make driving easier for disabled individuals. One device — a key holder — can be used by arthritic individuals who have a difficult time grasping keys, while a leg lifter can be used to move a disabled leg into the car, she illustrated.

In the time she has been with CarFit, Bieber said the biggest issue she sees is drivers with limited visibility.

“A lot of times, they’re not seated high enough,” she said. “They aren’t able to see over the hood of their car.”

Bieber stressed that the 30-minute CarFit checks aren’t meant to stop a person from driving.

“They’re meant to increase the driver’s safety and the safety of others,” she said.

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(c)2015 the Standard-Speaker (Hazleton, Pa.)

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