The driving environment has changed dramatically since most older adults became drivers. Roadways today are much more congested and complex than they were when they learned to drive. Roadway improvements designed to compensate for the age-related changes can make the task of negotiating today's roads and highways not only easier, but safer for everyone.
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) State Traffic Engineering and Operations Office handles issues related to aging drivers, traffic studies, intersection operations, signing, pavement marking, signals and traffic engineering standards for the State Highway System. If you have traffic related concerns on a state maintained road, you can locate a District Traffic Operations Engineer for your county.
The FDOT began implementing roadway improvements in 1991 through routine maintenance activities responding to revised design standards based on the Federal Highway Administration's Highway (FHWA) Handbook for Designing Roadways for the Aging Population (June 2014).
These roadway improvements were installed on our State Highway System and are now part of the state's standards. These improvements fall under the following areas:
- Increasing visibility
(6-inch wide pavement markings, lighting, reflective pavement markers, and larger lettering on guide signs)
- Improving pedestrian features
(refuge islands, slower walk speeds, high-emphasis crosswalks)
- Providing advance notification
(advance guide signs, advance stop, warning, and yield signs)
You can find specific information and links to the standards and guidelines for the roadway improvements that have been implemented on the State Highway System to benefit aging road users on the FDOT website.
Read the article about this important initiative in the Public Roads magazine titled A Golden Opportunity to Make Travel More Golden.
Other improvements that can help improve safety are roundabouts which are circular intersections with no traffic signal, where vehicles flow around a center island. Sometimes called the safest form of traffic control in the world, roundabouts are also some of the most attractive features in modern roadway design. While roundabouts help eliminate a number of safety problems, they can be confusing for drivers. FDOT has developed the following educational materials to help safely navigate roundabouts:
- Alert Today Florida's Guide to Modern Roundabouts
- A Guide to 1-lane Roundabouts brochure
- A Guide to 2-lane Roundabouts brochure
Other sources to help drivers understand roundabouts are as follows:
- The FHWA has created a Roundabout website that contains information on crash types and causes, technical implementation and tools, research, and resources including the video, Modern Roundabouts: A Safer Choice.
- The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has developed a Roundabout Question and Answer page on their website and also a two-minute video on "How Roundabouts Work" that can help educate.
- Liberty Mutual has an article in their magazine on Roundabouts.
- The Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan (TIA) has a comprehensive YouTube video to help educate about Modern Roundabouts.
- Time Magazine wrote an article on Roundabouts.
- US 41, Sarasota, FL Roundabout Design Website
- Florida Roundabout Safety Video
By their nature intersections can be the most dangerous of roadway features. They are the one place where all road users come together in a mix that has the greatest potential for conflict. More information on other policies and innovations regarding Intersections is available on the FDOT website.
These signals consist of a regular pedestrian signal with standard shapes and color, and an added display showing the number of seconds
left to safely cross the street. For more information, FDOT has developed
Countdown Pedestrian Signal educational tip card.
An 11x17 countdown pedestrian signal poster is available for download.
AAA Foundation produced a report on Pedestrian Signal Safety.
Resources and information tailored specifically for planners and engineers who are interested in designing for safety and usability for aging drivers can be accessed on the Engineer and Planner Resources page.
All-electronic tolling is now operational on Florida's Turnpike from U.S. 1 (Milepost 0) in Florida City to the Miami-Dade/Broward County line (Milepost 47). To learn more information and view a map, you can access this link: FL Turnpike All Electronic Toll Brochure.
511 is a free service of the FDOT that offers travel information along with personalized profiles you can choose. The following types of information is provided for travelers throughout the State of Florida and is constantly updated for:
- Traffic Warnings and Updates
- Traveler Information
- Highway Construction Information
- Traffic Information System
- Statewide 511 Travel Information
You can learn more about 511, including view a tip sheet or other help information on the 511 website. To can also view the roadways that are covered by 511 on their website.
You can view a 511 video designed specifically for aging drivers on our YouTube page.
Road Ranger Service Patrol
The FDOT's Road Ranger Service Patrol has become one of the most effective elements of the incident management program created by the FDOT. It is their mission to provide free highway assistance services during incidents to reduce delay and improve safety for the motoring public and responders. The Road Ranger Service Patrol consists of roaming vehicles, which patrol congested areas and high incident locations along urban freeways and have equipment to assist drivers (such as booster cables, jacks, sand, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, reflective cones, etc.).
Stranded motorists just need to dial *FHP (*347) to access the Road Ranger Dispatch.
Benefits of the program include:
- Reduction of crashes
- Reduction of incident duration by assisting the Florida Highway Patrol
- Assistance to disabled or stranded motorists
- Removal of road debris
You can learn more about the Road Ranger Service Patrol on their website.
Human factors studies are a vital component to help us gain a better understanding and compare a roadway design improvement or proposed safety countermeasure with its actual effect on the road user, before we install on our roadway system. Especially since drivers of all ages may not respond to the design as expected. Providing engineers and planners a deeper understanding of driver behavior promotes FDOT’s goal to create safer roadways for users of all ages. The Safe Mobility for Life Program has been working with Florida State University, Department of Psychology to conduct human factors studies with younger, middle-aged, and older adults to help us gain a better understanding of changes that could benefit aging road users. Here are summaries and links to the final reports for these research projects:
- Aging Driver and Pedestrian Safety Human Factors Studies, Summary [PDF - 365 KB], Final Report [PDF - 2,686 KB]
- Aging Driver and Pedestrian Safety: Parking Lot Hazards Study, Summary [PDF - 268 KB], Final Report [PDF - 2,330 KB]
- Aging Road User, Bicyclist, and Pedestrian Safety: Human Factors Studies Phase 3, Effective Bicycling Signs and Preventing Left-turn Crashes, Summary [PDF - 809 KB], Final Report [PDF - 1,900 KB]
Our first project, the "Aging Driver and Pedestrian Safety Human Factors Studies" was recognized as one of 16 high value research projects by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in 2013.
- NHTSA's Clearinghouse for Older Road User Safety https://www.roadsafeseniors.org/resources/safer-roads