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Older adults need transportation to the places and services that support their independence. As federal, state, and local policymakers consider transportation investments, they should take into account older adults’ mobility requirements and desire for mobility options, including travel on foot or bicycle and by car, bus, train, plane, and, in some areas, boat. Because of physical limitations, many older adults need specialized transportation services such as door-to -door paratransit and escorts to doctor’s offices. All of these options must be safe, affordable, accessible, dependable, and user-friendly. Policies that encourage adequate, safe and accessible transportation infrastructure and services help people of all ages stay active and engaged in their communities.
In The Spotlight
- By 2025 one in four U.S drivers will be age 65 and older. Surveys show today’s generation of older Americans drive farther and more often, but the aging process makes driving safely more difficult for some.
- Forty percent of adults age 50 and older reported inadequate sidewalks in their neighborhoods and nearly 50 percent reported that they cannot cross main roads close to their home safely.
- The average risk of severe injury or death increases with age. The average risk of severe injury or death of a 70-year old pedestrian struck by a car traveling at 25 mph is similar to the risk for a 30-year old pedestrian struck at 35 mph.
- Transit use by people age 65+, as a share of all the trips they take, increased by 40 percent between 2001 and 2009.
- Walking is the second most popular means of travel among people 65+.
- While older men’s per capita VMT (vehicle miles traveled) declined between 2001 and 2009, older women’s VMT increased.
AARP Transportation Principles
Create transportation options. All individuals should have a range of safe, accessible, dependable, and affordable transportation options, including alternatives to driving that enhance mobility, promote independence, facilitate employment opportunity, and foster social engagement.
Promote affordable transportation options. Provide transit services that equitably connect people to jobs and services, including low- and moderate-income or older people, who may not have access to cars.
Ensure the transportation system is accessible. Provide travel infrastructure and facilities that accommodate older drivers’ and pedestrians’ needs and enhance safety for all users across all modes of travel. Equipment, physical environment, and service standards for both public-transit providers and private carriers should maximize mobility choice and access for consumers of all ability levels and across the income spectrum.
Promote healthy communities through sustainable transportation infrastructure. Enhance public health by coordinating transportation and land use decisions to create communities where it is safe and convenient to replace trips in private vehicles with walking, bicycling, and public transportation.
Foster coordinated transportation services and assets. The coordination of community transportation services and assets can improve the availability, quality, and efficient delivery of transportation services for all residents, and in particular older adults, people with disabilities, and individuals with lower incomes.
Strengthen federal leadership in transportation. Ensure that federal transportation laws reflect a strong national purpose. Federal transportation funding should stem from equitably designed funding sources and be based on performance measures that improve mobility for all. Investment decisions at all levels of government should be transparent to all.
Safe and Livable Travel Environments
More than 30,000 Americans are killed on our nation’s roadways each year and far more are injured. Older road users, because of their increased frailty, are overrepresented in both vehicle and pedestrian crash fatalities. While adults 65 and older comprised less than 13 percent of the population, they were represented in 15 percent of vehicle fatalities and 19 percent of pedestrian fatalities in 2008. An older vehicle occupant is 18 percent more likely to die in a crash than someone under the age of 65. More staggering, an older pedestrian is 61 percent more likely to die than a younger pedestrian. Explore
Like younger people in the US, older individuals rely most heavily on automobiles for transportation. People age 50 and older make nearly 90 percent of their local trips by private vehicle. The number of older drivers is growing at a fast pace, and these drivers are keeping their licenses longer and driving more. In 2008, nearly 90 percent of people 65 and older were licensed drivers (94% men;75% women). Explore
Access to Transportation
All people should have access to a variety of safe, affordable, dependable, and user-friendly travel options. For some people, regular, fixed-route public transportation services are ideal; for others, because of health, disability status, or geography, more personalized services—such as paratransit, dial-a-ride, reduced-fare taxis, or rides in private vehicles available through volunteer driver programs—are needed. While everyone benefits from having multiple transportation options, it is especially important for older adults, people with disabilities, and children, who cannot or choose not to drive but who wish to stay connected to community vendors, services, and social activities. Explore
Government provision of transportation infrastructure and services begins with planning. Transportation planning has a profound effect on the character of a community and the availability of transportation choices. Transportation planning that focuses on providing mobility for all residents, regardless of functional ability, is essential to creating livable communities. Creating a livable community takes sustained coordination between transportation and land-use planners, and between elected officials and the residents they serve. Proper planning can help to ensure that transportation modes are linked within a community and that neighborhoods are connected to the broader region via an efficient road and transit network. Increased mobility, improved safety, economic development, and reduced pollution and dependence on foreign oil are all benefits of sound transportation planning. Explore
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