Older driver highway design: the development of a handbook and training workshop to design safe road environments for older drivers

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Jennifer Oxley
Bruce Corben
Brian Fildes

Older drivers are involved in significantly more serious injury and casualty crashes per kilometre driven than younger drivers and this rate is expected to increase as older people drive more and the population ages. Road design plays a major role in road safety, however, and it has generally not taken the older road user into consideration. There is, therefore, a need to take effective action to reduce risk levels to older road users by designing roads that accommodate the needs and capabilities of this vulnerable road user group. This paper describes a research program that examines the suitability of road design in Australasia for older drivers. The findings from an older driver crash 'black-spot' site study highlight the difficulty experienced by older drivers of selecting safe gaps at intersections, which is exacerbated by factors such as limited sight distance, high task complexity, high traffic volumes, high approach speeds and wide, multi-lane carriageways. Some recommendations are made to target this problem for older drivers including replacing stop and give-way signs with fully controlled traffic signals, provision of roundabouts, and provision of fully controlled right-turn phases (left-turn in US and some European countries). A handbook and training package are under development to promote these recommendations to ensure they receive maximum use by Australasian road authorities and provide awareness of the difficulties experienced by older drivers.

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