Study Finds Funding is Needed to promote safety of older drivers.February 24, 2012 -
"Keeping Baby Boomers Mobile: Preserving Mobility and Safety for Older Americans," released by TRIP, highlights ways state DoTs are actively addressing needs of older drivers. After claiming state DoTs are doing everything possible with limited resources, AASHTO's John Horsley noted that long-term federal surface transportation reauthorization would give state DoTs ability to invest in projects to enhance safety, decrease congestion, and improve security/mobility of older Americans.
Study Finds Older Drivers at 'Greatest Risk'; Funding Needed for Safety Enhancements
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American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 249
Washington, DC, 20001
Press release date: February 22, 2012
WASHINGTON -- A report "Keeping Baby Boomers Mobile: Preserving Mobility and Safety for Older Americans" -- released today by TRIP, a national non-profit transportation research group based in Washington -- highlights the many ways state departments of transportation are actively addressing the needs of older drivers. The report also makes the case for increased funding, research, planning, and implementation of innovative solutions to support older drivers now and into the future.
The number of older Americans and their share of the overall population surged in 2011, as the first of the Baby Boom generation began turning 65. This dramatic growth will continue throughout the decade, with projections indicating that one in every five drivers in America will be age 65 or older by 2025.
"State transportation departments are doing what they can with limited resources," said AASHTO Executive Director John Horsley. "A long-term federal surface transportation reauthorization will give state DOTs the ability to invest in infrastructure projects to enhance safety, decrease traffic congestion, and improve the security and mobility of older Americans -- who the study finds make 90% of their trips by private vehicle."
Total traffic fatalities have declined in recent years; however, the study calls attention to the fact that older motorists are involved in a disproportionately high share of deadly crashes. In 2010, there were 5,750 fatalities in crashes involving at least one driver 65 or older. Although drivers 65 and older account for 8% of all miles driven, they comprise 17% of all traffic fatalities.
"The growing ranks of older Americans will far outpace previous generations with their level of ability and activity. Serving their needs will require a transportation system that includes safer roads, safer vehicles, safer drivers, and improved choices," said TRIP Executive Director Will Wilkins. "Congress can help not only older drivers, but all drivers by passing long-term federal surface transportation legislation now."
AASHTO's three pronged approach to keeping America's growing population of older drivers mobile and safe: 1. Work for the passage of a long-term surface transportation reauthorization to ensure adequate funds are provided for highway and transit projects to support the safety and mobility of older drivers.
Some of the safety enhancements suggested in the study include: installing clearer, brighter, and simpler signage with large lettering; brighter street markings, particularly at intersections; widening or adding left-turn lanes and extending the length of merge or exit lanes; and adding rumble strips. 2. Foster partnerships with a wide range of organizations to promote education and training programs for older drivers as well as evaluating and monitoring "at risk" older motorists through appropriate licensing requirements and sensible laws and regulations that promote the safety and security of the entire traveling public. 3. Promote increasing and improving travel options for older citizens such as adding public transit routes, vehicles, facilities, and stops that are easily accessible and accommodating to older or disabled passengers, as well as expanding non-traditional approaches tailored to the needs of older adults.