Extra On Getting There: Making roads safer for aging Florida drivers

By Ryan Harper , Real-Time Traffic Expert
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 06, 2017, 4:47 PM EST

Nineteen percent of Florida's population is 65 years and older, meaning that there are more drivers in that age bracket than ever before.

  • Florida's 65 and older population is growing
  • FDOT addressing aging population in future road projects
  • Read a guide on Fla.'s aging drivers here

That makes it all the more important to know the proper position to drive in.

As part of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, Florida Department of Transportation, Safe Mobility for Life Coalition and others hosted a CarFit Safety event in Orlando.

The purpose?

To find the ideal driving position to maximize comfort and safety.

"As we age, some of the changes come along ever so suddenly,” said FDOT spokesman Steve Olson. “The question is, 'Can you see out of your car correctly?  Are you a safe driver?'"

During the event, trained technicians checked 12 important "fit" areas with drivers in their vehicles to find that ideal driving position. Some of the technicians were older drivers themselves, like Robert Vogel who said getting some of the older drivers to even wear a seat belt sometimes is a struggle.

"It's the number one safety factor in every vehicle,” said Vogel. “And not putting on a seat belt is putting you at risk."

Transportation leaders say by the year 2030, the number of drivers on the roads over age 65 will climb to 25 percent.

FDOT is taking that into account in future road projects — that means things like making it easier to merge on major roads.

"Merging is always an issue for older drivers,” Vogel said. “So a lot of that has to do with the design of the road, allowing them to get up to speed so that they can merge into traffic."

To help with that, they've already made lane striping easier to see.

"We have our pavement marking. Now it's at six inches wide — it used to be four inches,” said Gail Holley, Program Manager for Safe Mobility for Life. “And that was actually changed due to older driver research."

They also consider things like rumble strips and better lighting for roads and signs.

Another consideration is installing advance street name signs, which alerts drivers to an intersection that's down the road, giving more time to make a decision.

For more info and a guide for Florida’s Aging Drivers, visit: www.FLsams.org/ODSAW2017.htm