Independent Mobility - For Life

This Older Americans Month, the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF) is taking the opportunity to shine a light on an often overlooked but crucial component of promoting safety and independence: roadway design. 

A very dear mentor of mine used to say, “Driving may be a privilege, but mobility is a right.” It’s up to all of us to ensure that no matter how people of any age choose to travel, they are able to access the social, medical, recreational, and commercial services that are so important for lifelong well-being.

One of the beauties of designing road environments with the needs of older road users specifically taken into account is that ALL road users benefit. It’s truly a win-win arrangement.

Treatments like larger signs, brighter pavement markings, and crisper fonts that make it easier to navigate and properly position your vehicle are good for everybody. 

Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs), which provide a few extra seconds for pedestrians to establish themselves in a crosswalk before vehicular traffic gets a green light, improve the visibility of walkers and give them more time to cross.

And, since crash survivability is the biggest issue facing older road users (for their novice counterparts, it’s the likelihood of being in a crash in the first place), anything that can mitigate crash severity is especially important.

Roundabouts, for example, greatly reduce vehicle speeds and improve safety outcomes as a result compared with traditional intersections. Median cable barriers are extremely effective at preventing severe oncoming crashes, absorb more of the crash energy than rigid barricades, and are highly cost-beneficial. The list goes on.

So, this OAM, let’s all take a moment to look around our communities and find opportunities to help each other stay safe and mobile – for life.

To learn more and get some additional ideas, visit RSF’s Educational Materials webpage. There, you’ll find videos specifically pertaining to older road users, as well as a community-oriented guide to roadway safety, brochures, and other materials. And of course, ChORUS remains your one-stop-shop for this vital topic.

Bruce Hamilton, MPH
Executive Director
Roadway Safety Foundation