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The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(24) [Completed]

Transportation Mobility, Access and Safety for an Aging Population
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: 114,274
Research Agency: See Below
Principal Investigator: See Below
Effective Date: 5/20/2003
Completion Date: 9/30/2005

Background: The U.S. Census reports that nearly 35 million people, over 12 percent of the nation's total population in 2000, were 65 years of age or older, and the number and percentage are projected to continue their rapid growth. This older population group has a special interest in the mobility and access that our transportation system can provide to enable them to continue to lead active and independent lives. Access to health care is a predominant concern, but continued independence also requires mobility to support recreation and leisure activities, shopping, and other daily-living pursuits. Older drivers, pedestrians and transit users raise additional special concerns regarding transportation system safety and security.

Government agencies at federal and state levels are addressing some of these concerns. The Federal Transit Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services have programs supporting transit and vanpool operations to meet the transportation needs of the elderly in urban and rural areas. The state of Florida, for example, is enlarging some highway street signs from 12 to 36 inches to accommodate the diminished vision of elderly drivers. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) has been revised to include recommendations geared to assisting and protecting the elderly, such as enlarged letters on street signs and rescue islands built in the median of wide streets to better accommodate elderly pedestrians.

More substantial action may be needed, however. Observers expect that the aging baby-boom generation will continue to lead active lives long after retirement. In looking forward, the number of over-65 drivers on the nation's roads could more than double during the next three decades, to some 60 million; the numbers of aged pedestrians and transit riders will likewise grow. What additional transportation system facilities and services will be required to enable these older transportation-system users to maintain their active lifestyles and system safety and reliability?

Objective: The objective of this project was to conduct a symposium on the stake that our elderly population has in current transportation system facilities and services, including those directed specifically at meeting their mobility and access needs, and to discuss what additional transportation system facilities and services will be needed over the next 20 years to provide mobility and access for the growing aged population.

Tasks: The following specific projects/activities have been completed:

Project 20-24(24)A & B
Transportation Mobility, Access, and Safety for an Aging Population


Principal Invest: Jon Burkhardt (Westat) and John W. Eberhart
Effective Date: May 20, 2003
Completion Date: December 15, 2003
Funds: $30,000
NCHRP Staff: Crawford Jencks

Status: The purpose of these contracts was to provide support to AASHTO in the development of background issues needed to support a Symposium on Transportation Mobility for the Elderly. Recommendations for programs relating to transportation mobility, access, and safety for seniors were scanned. Each consultant identified international, national, state, and local (MPO) activities that have been done over the last 15 years. Recent research and conference proceedings on transportation and seniors were synthesized. The consultants' resource paper is available here.

Project 20-24(24)B(01)
Transportation Mobility for the Elderly Symposium

Res. Agency: Eno Transportation Foundation
Principal Invest: Kathryn Harrington-Hughes and Thomas Downs
Effective Date: April 9, 2004
Completion Date: September 30, 2005
Funds: $84,274
NCHRP Staff: Crawford Jencks

Status: The Eno Transportation Foundation, in collaboration with AASHTO and the support of NCHRP, hosted a national forum on elderly mobility on November 4-5, 2004, in Washington, DC. The program featured presentations on research in the field, the status of federal policy development, and early "safe mobility" initiatives now operating in various communities. The agency's forum report, Transportation Options for a Maturing Population: Strategies and Tools for Communities and Decision Makers, is available here.



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