Engineering and planning for the aging road user takes into account the natural changes in vision, fitness and flexibility, attention span, and reaction time that occurs as we age. Engineering and planning with Florida's aging population in mind is critical to the continued mobility of older adults.
Making left turns and 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.
In order to have to be an effective community and meet the needs of all citizens, it is important in the planning stages to take into consideration the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit users of every age.
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 pedestrians: pedestrian crossing design, operations, and control and pedestrian control devices.
- WalkingSafe.org is a Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center that contains information and resources related to engineering pedestrian facilities.
- Through funding from the 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 also 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, FDOT and Florida State University's Department of Psychology have been conducting human factors studies before implementing any roadway improvements. Several studies have been completed under their Intersection and Pedestrian Safety Research Project where lab and field experiments (day and night) were conducted to determine sign perception and pedestrian awareness for younger, middle-aged and older age groups to help assess older and younger pedestrian intersection crossing behavior.
See more information on human factors research on the Roadway page.
The FDOT developed the Florida Roundabout Guide to assist district offices and local agencies identify appropriate sites for roundabouts and determine their preferred configuration and operational features.
The FHWA Highway Design Handbook for Older Drivers and Pedestrians contains Roundabout recommendations.
View roundabout educational information on our Roadway page.
- Public Roads, January/February 2007, Vol. 70, No. 4, "Older Drivers at a Crossroads," by David A. Morena, W. Scott Wainwright, and Fred Ranck.
- FHWA Publication "Safety Effectiveness of Intersection Left- and Right-Turn Lanes".