When designing roadways and communities to benefit an aging road user, engineers and planners should consider the natural changes in vision, fitness and flexibility, attention span, and reaction time that occurs as we age. For example, making left turns or getting stranded in the crosswalk when the signal changes can be challenging for all road users, but especially those that are experiencing age-related changes.
Building roadways and communities with Florida's aging population in mind is critical to the continued safe mobility of older adults. The following state and national resources provide guidelines and information to help factor older adults into community plans.
In order to be an effective community and meet the needs of all citizens, it is important to take the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit users into consideration as soon as planning begins.
Transportation agencies have been advancing the concept of Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) in which transportation projects are planned, designed, and implemented to meet the needs of communities and the environment. CSS adds to the traditional methods of project development by emphasizing collaborative and interdisciplinary decision making and by insisting that the context of a project is thoroughly understood before any design decisions are made. The CSS process seeks to balance safety and mobility with scenic, aesthetic, historic, environmental values that will enhance the community.
FDOT has a Context Sensitive Solutions policy that has been in place since November 2008.
Contextsensitivesolutions.org is a FHWA online resource center.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Aging Initiative shares helpful tips and information to promote active aging through their guide "Growing Smarter, Living Healthier - A Guide to Smart Growth and Active Aging".
There are several resources to planning and developing pedestrian and bicycle design elements, including:
- The FDOT Pedestrian and Bike Policies and Standards.
- Several sections within the FHWA Highway Design Handbook
for Older Drivers and Pedestrians contain specific recommendations for older
- pedestrian crossings
- pedestrian refuge islands
- pedestrian signals
- PedBikeInfo.org is a Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center that contains information and resources related to engineering pedestrian facilities.
- Through funding from NHTSA, the Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill has developed The Pedestrian Safety Workshop: A Focus on Older Adults. User-friendly downloadable instructor guides and videos about each module are available.
- AARP and Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) partnered to develop the non-technical Pedestrian Safety and Mobility Audit Guide as a tool to be used before volunteer auditors go out into the community. This guide also features completed pedestrian audit locations.
Protected left-turn lanes that use a dedicated left-turn signal assist the aging drivers who often have trouble making left turns due to an inability to properly judge the speed and distance of the approaching traffic.
Older adults can sometimes experience difficulty crossing the street because their walking speeds tend to slow with age. Refuge islands, particularly on multi-lane highways, can provide older pedestrians a safe place to wait for the signal to change. Countdown pedestrian signals provide older pedestrians with information on how much time remains to safely cross the street.
Lesson 15 in the FHWA Course on Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation discusses pedestrian accommodations at intersections.
For the past several years, the FDOT has been conducting human factor studies to determine how new traffic control devices are perceived by younger, middle, and older age groups. This enables us to gain a better understanding of driver behavior prior to implementing new roadway improvements on the state highway system. For more information on the human factors research projects that were conducted, visit the Roadway page.