Steering You Right with Sharon Peters: In and out with ease

2014-01-22T08:00:00Z Steering You Right with Sharon Peters: In and out with easeSharon L. Peters CTW Features
January 22, 2014 8:00 am  • 

Q: My mother-in-law is a good and cautious driver. But she has begun having trouble, due to a failing left knee, getting out of her car. Any suggestions?

A: Occupational therapists recommend the HandyBar. It’s a heavy-duty steel handle that she’ll slip into the U slot of her doorframe when the door is open. It serves as a sturdy assister for her to grab for extra stability as she exits the car. It’s said to fit any vehicle, and it’s available through many online purveyors for about $20 to about $40.

And as long as I’ve been led here, I want to say I heard this product described at a CarFit assessment I signed up for recently (during which I was advised about an unwise way in which I’d been positioning myself while driving). I’m guessing almost everyone who goes through one of these 20-minute personalized sessions – free and held all over the country – will discover something important.

Here’s what CarFit is: Sponsored by AARP, the American Occupational Therapy Association and AAA, it’s a one-on-one assessment (you’re in your car, in a parking lot, while the experts go over dozens of matters with you) to help you “fit” better with your car. They’ll reposition your mirrors (more than half the drivers they see, the instructors said, have their outside mirrors positioned incorrectly, which means the blind spot is larger than necessary). They check your distance from the steering wheel; they make sure your seatbelt is properly positioned (many shorter people don’t realize that in most vehicles the clip from which the shoulder strap attaches can be lowered to make it more comfortable and safer).

If you have mobility issues, including swinging yourself from behind the wheel toward the door, or grasping the seatbelt to latch it, they can recommend products.

My one issue/problem: I like my seat high. But because I’m tall, I had to angle my right leg to move my foot from gas pedal to brake, not particularly safe, and undoubtedly the reason I was getting hip and thigh pain in stop-and-go traffic. They helped me reposition.

The sessions are for people 55 and older (though any age could benefit).

Learn more at CarFit, org. Upcoming sessions are listed under “events.”

What’s your question? Sharon Peters would like to hear about what’s on your mind when it comes to caring for, driving and repairing your vehicle. Email

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