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FHWA Resource Center
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The proportion of the driving population over 65 is growing significantly. There numbers will double over the next 30 years. By 2030, one in five Americans will be age 65 or older. As people age, a decline in sensory, cognitive, or physical functioning can have an impact on their driving skills, as well as increase their vulnerability to injury once in a crash. Older motorists can be expected to have problems driving given these known performance changes, presenting many challenges to transportation engineers, who must ensure system safety while increasing operational efficiency.
Among licensed drivers, older adults are among the safest. The average annual number of crashes in the United States is 68 per 1,000 licensed drivers, while the corresponding rate for drivers 65+ is only 37. However, when crashes are calculated on the basis of miles traveled, older drivers are at an increase crash risk. The overall fatality rate for all drivers is 2 fatalities per 1,000 crashes. For persons ages 65 -74 the rate is 3.2, and for persons ages 75-84 the rate is 5.3, and at 85+ it climbs to 8.6. Therefore, when the safety of older drivers is measured in terms of fatalities per licensed driver and fatalities per mile traveled, there is clearly a cause for concern.
This Older Driver Highway Design Handbook provides practitioners with a practical information source that links older road user characteristics to highway design, operational and traffic engineering recommendations by addressing specific roadway features. This handbook supplements existing standards and guidelines in the areas of highway geometry, operations, and traffic control devices.
The information in this handbook should be of interest to highway designers, traffic engineers, and highway safety specialists involved in the design and operation of highway facilities. Contact the Federal Highway Division Office in your State to begin coordination efforts to host an Older Driver Design workshop in your State.
Good information properly used is one of the underpinnings of a sound traffic safety enterprise. Drivers with bad driving records need to be rigorously tracked and appropriate measures taken to protect public safety. The how, who, when, where, and why of accidents need to be recorded and the data made readily available for analysis and use in the formation of safety policy. The technology exists to gather, integrate, and utilize information on a wide variety of important traffic safety issues. Understanding and using information technology to the greatest advantage is a critical challenge to traffic safety programs nationwide.
The National Model for the Statewide Application of Data Collection & Management Technology to Improve Highway Safety is a nationally-recognized program for sharing information, resources, and technologies to improve highway safety. The focus of the National Model is improving data collection for roadway incidents, leveraging proven technology for law enforcement, streamlining the communication of safety information to key stakeholders, and extending the use of this information for short- and long-range safety and law enforcement programs.
The Traffic and Criminal Software (TraCS) is the foundation of the field data collection. TraCS is a sophisticated, yet simple to use, data collection and reporting tool. Electronic data facilitates linking to roadway, vehicle, driver, emergency, criminal, and other related data to improve highway safety.
Traffic fatality data (and some injury data) can be obtained from NHTSA Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and Traffic Safety Facts websites listed below.
Crash Data sites:
Sample state pedestrian plans: