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.
More than 20 years ago, a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) pilot program conducted by FDOT kickstarted the now statewide Safe Mobility for Life Program. The purpose of the pilot was to identify highway safety improvements to enhance the safety and mobility of older drivers. With one of the highest populations of adults aged 65 and older, Florida was a great place to start.
The roadway and pedestrian improvements installed by FDOT on state roads during the early years of the program were adopted by many local governments and are now common roadway features. These improvements address natural age-related changes by providing:
FDOT implements roadway improvements responding to revised design standards based on the Federal Highway Administration's Highway (FHWA) Handbook for Designing Roadways for the Aging Population.
Human factors studies 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 it on our roadway system. This is especially helpful since drivers of all ages may not respond to the design as expected. This provides a deeper understanding of driver behavior and 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’s Department of Psychology to conduct human factors studies with younger (21-35), middle-aged (50-64), and older adults (65 years and older) to help us gain a better understanding of changes that could benefit aging road users. Here are links to the summaries and final reports for these research projects:
- Aging Driver and Pedestrian Safety Human Factors Studies, Final Report
- Aging Driver and Pedestrian Safety: Parking Lot Hazards Study, Summary, Final Report
- Aging Road User, Bicyclist, and Pedestrian Safety: Human Factors Studies Phase 3, Effective Bicycling Signs and Preventing Left-turn Crashes, Summary, Final Report
- Aging Road User Studies of Intersection Safety, Final Report
- Human Factors Study on the Use of Colors for Express Lane Delineators, Summary, Final Report
- Human Factors Guidelines to Develop Educational Tip Cards for Aging Road Users, Summary, Final Report
Recognized as a high value research project by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) in 2013.
The Safe Mobility for Life Program worked with Florida State University’s Department of Psychology to study the use of educational tip cards on young, middle-age, and older adults. This allowed us to develop a research-based checklist that is used when designing tip cards to educate older adults on new roadway features.
Using the research results and recommendations, FDOT and the Safe Mobility for Life Coalition developed tip cards and graphics for the following roadways and traffic control devices:
- Flashing Yellow Arrows
- Right Turn on Red
- Wrong-Way Driving on the Interstate