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'Car Fit' program helps older drivers feel at ease behind the wheel

Saturday - 11/16/2013, 3:27pm  ET

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John Werderman guides Ella Barber through some of the safety features in her car. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

CHANTILLY, Va.- It's like a child safety seat program, but this makes sure that older drivers have the proper fit in their own cars.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports there are more drivers ages 70 and older on the roads today, and the number of older drivers is growing as baby boomers aging. Now, there's a growing concern on the effects of driver safety.

"Car Fit," a free safety program, helps fit older drivers to their cars. It's not designed to take the keys away from an older driver, but it helps make sure mature drivers "find the safest fit" and feel comfortable in their own cars.

John Werderman, a volunteer with the Fairfax County Police Department, runs the "Car Fit" program. He says cars have changed a lot over the years, especially with more senior citizens behind the wheel.

"I'm going to access and help you understand all the safety features in the vehicle," Werderman says of the program.

On Saturday morning, he held a "Car Fit" clinic at the Sully Police station in Chantilly.

70 year-old Ella Barber lives with her daughter in Chantilly. She says her daughter asked her to check out the program.

Werderman spent about 20 minutes with Barber, asking her questions and adjusting different features in her mini-van, like her mirrors, seat belts, high-beams and windshield wipers.

Afterward, Barber was pleased and a bit more self-confident in her driving.

"I learned how to adjust my car to suit me to driver better," she says. But she admits she still won't drive at night.

Fairfax County Police say they're planning more "Car Fit" clinics in the spring.

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