Identifying and Designing for the Needs of Older Road Users
L Rackliff, R Elliman, Vehicle Safety Research Centre, Loughborough University, UK; C Brace, Accident Research Centre, Monash University, AU
This study uses qualitative and quantitative approaches to identify risk factors affecting older road users, and suggest solutions that will provide additional benefits to the wider community of road users.
In Europe, as in other parts of the world, socio-economic changes and improved health have led to a significant rise in the numbers of older drivers, with numbers expected to continue to rise for the foreseeable future. Whilst much research focuses on the likely impact on road safety, little work has been carried out examining the impact on older people themselves of their declining ability to cope with the road environment. It is known that because of their increased frailty older drivers are more at risk of sustaining a fatal or serious injury than younger road-users. Consequently older people often feel pressured by family members, health practitioners or an increasing inability to deal with traffic conditions, into giving up driving in favour of some other form of transport. However, the subsequent effect of this may actually be to increase the risk exposure of older people. The aim of this study was to collect detailed information on the interaction between behaviour, perceived and actual risk and use of transport systems, using both quantitative and qualitative techniques. A small-scale pilot questionnaire was distributed amongst older residents of the city of Coventry, UK, to identify specific locations on the local road network that older road users felt at risk on. The actual accident-involvement of older road-users at these locations was then examined, in order to determine the extent to which perceptions matched the reality. Older people felt at risk using the road system, and many of these perceptions were upheld by the statistical reports. Not all of the issues raised by older road-users can be dealt with by improving design; this study presents a set of recommendations to help meet their needs, and hence increase the safety of all road users.
Association for European Transport