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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety





In many Countries the fatality rate for elderly people on the roads is about 1.5 times the average. Older drivers do, however, have lower exposure. In 2003, road accident fatalities among over 65s comprised around 18% of all road accident fatalities. This equates to 11,000 fatalities in a year and about 30 fatalities each day [18].

Diminished visual performance (reduced acuity and contrast sensitivity), physical capability (reduced strength to perform control movements and sensitivity to lateral force), cognitive performance (attentional deficits and declines in choice reaction time in responses to unpredictable stimuli), and perceptual abilities (reduced accuracy of processing speed-distance information as required for gap judgments) combine to make the task of negotiating the road design elements more difficult and less forgiving for older drivers [95].

Research results [9] show that the following activities become more difficult for drivers as they grow older:

  • Reading street signs in town
  • Driving across an junction
  • Finding the beginning of a left-turn lane at an junction
  • Making a left turn at an junction
  • Following pavement markings
  • Responding to traffic signals
  • Maneuvering at weaving areas (e.g. at-grade junctions)

Benekohal [9] also found that the following road features become more important to drivers as they age:

  • Lighting at junctions
  • Pavement markings at junctions
  • Number of left-turn lanes at an junction
  • Width of travel lanes
  • Concrete lane guides (raised channelization) for turns at junctions
  • Size of traffic signals at junctions

Recommendations to enhance the performance of diminished-capacity drivers as they approach and travel through junctions, may include: intersecting angle (skew); lane width for turning operations; channelization; junction sight distance; left-turn lane geometry, signing, and delineation; treatments/delineation of curbs, medians, and obstacles; curb radius; traffic control; signage; lane assignment on junction approach; traffic signal performance issues; lighting installations; and pedestrian control devices [58].