Tuesday, January 13, 2015

When are You Too Old to Drive?

Is the U.S. Ready for Seniors Who Want to Stop Driving? (Angie Schmitt,Streetsblog, Oct. 27, 2014)

Also discussed here: When Planning for Retirement, Consider Transportation (Harriet Edleson, New York Times, Oct. 17, 2014)

And here: What About The Elderly? (Andrew Price, Strong Towns, Oct. 17, 2013)

And here: Driving Life Expectancy of Persons Aged 70 Years and Older in the United States (6 page pdf, Daniel J. Foley, Harley K. Heimovitz, Jack M. Guralnik and Dwight B. Brock, American Journal of Public Health, Aug. 2002)

Today we review several articles that look at the older generation (getting bigger) and how much they drive (a little less) and how big a challenge it is for them to get around (bigger). One downside is that older drivers are three times more likely to die in a car accident because of their reduced ability to drive, offset by the number who chose not to drive anymore. Some prefer to live in communities where one can walk to get what one needs, even though walking for some is as challenging as driving. Are city planners taking into account the growth of the older population and their differing needs for transportation? As one commentator noted “We cannot ignore the problem, because we will all be elderly one day.”

driving ages  

Key Quotes:

‘The health and longevity of the elderly population in the United States are at unprecedented levels, and many older persons continue to drive throughout their eighth and ninth decades of life… Overall, 82% of the men aged 70 years or older were driving, compared with only 55% of the women.”

“Compared with middle-aged drivers, older drivers have about a 3-fold increased risk of crashing per mile driven. However, older persons drive markedly fewer miles annually than middle-aged drivers, resulting in an equivalent annualized risk for crashing. ”

“Compared with middle-aged drivers of the same sex and involved in the same severity of crash, older drivers are 3 times more likely to die as a result of the crash.. Overall, the mortality rate among male drivers (89 deaths per 1000 drivers) was 62% higher than that among female drivers (55 deaths per 1000 drivers).”

“Americans are outliving their ability to drive safely — a woman, on average, by 10 years, a man by seven.”

“When people make retirement plans, they make no transportation plans because they assume they’re going to drive forever,”

“Nationally, for those over 65, 2 to 3 percent of what distance they travel is on public transportation, 8 percent on foot and the rest by car”

“getting from public transportation to your final destination or walking a mile or more to a bus stop could present an insurmountable challenge, especially on freezing winter days or hot, muggy stretches”

“Those living in households that are car-dependent spend 25 percent of income on transportation. By living closer to work, shopping, restaurants and other amenities, households can reduce transportation costs to 9 percent of their total income.”

“Walkability and access to mass transit are essential factors in housing choice (increasingly for millennials as well as seniors!) and should be considered in any planned development.”

“The majority of Post-World War 2 suburban development has been oriented around the automobile. From the large suburban plots, to the hierarchical street system, to the strip malls and big box stores - they have all been designed with the assumption that everyone drives…. Because nobody walks, there is no real incentive for developers to build sidewalks.”

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