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What your running shoes and automobile have in common: the search for a proper fit

Photo: Subconsci Productions via Flickr

When you’re picking a new pair of shoes, a good fit is important, right?

Take running shoes, for example. A great shoe has cushioned insoles for protection and when tied correctly the laces are strong and supportive.  A proper fit helps the shoe feel good, but it primarily protects the runner from injury.

Similarly, cars also require a good fit to keep drivers safe. Now, a free program sponsored by AAA, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association is underway to ensure drivers are properly fitted in their vehicles.

The program pairs drivers a trained staff member.  Then, they work together to adjust settings to help drivers eliminate blind spots with their mirrors, reach the steering wheel comfortably and set their seating to protect the driver in the event of a crash.

Erica Stern, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Minnesota’s Program in Occupational Therapy in the Center for Allied Health Programs, finds many common in-car safety strategies need updating.

“Drivers would be surprised how important proper settings can be,” said Stern.  “For example, setting  mirrors to see a sliver of the car along your rear bumper actually creates a large blind spot that can be easily eliminated with a slight adjustment.  These are the types of tips we want to share with people.”

Stern also promotes seating the driver a safe distance from the steering wheel, allowing the airbags to deploy from a safe distance and at the proper angle.

Senior citizens, in particular, will benefit from this program.

“Senior citizens are at a greater risk in car crashes because they are often injured by crashes where younger drivers walk away.  ,” says Stern. “But really, everyone will see a big difference in comfort and safety after the adjustments.”

CarFit events are open to everyone, free of charge. Check the website for more information on events across the nation, or visit one of these upcoming local events:

  • September 10  – St Paul Parks and Rec Municipal Athletics
    • 1500 Rice St, St. Paul, MN, 55117
    • For appointments and information, contact Mary Livingston, 651-266-6447
  • September 22  – Creekside Community Center, Bloomington
    • 9801 Penn Ave. S., Bloomington, MN, 55431
    • For appointments and information, contact John McElhone, 952-563-4944

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