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Assessing the needs of Delaware's older drivers.
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  • Abstract:
    In light of Delaware’s growing population age 60 and older (60+), it is important to plan for the

    state’s projected increase in older drivers. Information from the United States Census Bureau

    (2005) indicates that Delaware is projected to have the ninth largest percentage of elderly

    residents to general population by 2030. Additionally, research from the University of

    Delaware’s Center for Applied Demography and Survey Research (2006) illustrates that Sussex

    County is projected to experience the most significant percentage growth between 2000 and


    Delaware reflects national trends in terms of its percentage of licensed drivers over the age of 65.

    According to the Delaware Department of Transportation (2004), in 2003, 15.3 percent of

    licensed drivers were over the age of 65. Many younger seniors (50-65) prefer to drive, and with

    few transportation alternatives in the state, dependency of private vehicles is likely to continue.

    However, factors that pose risks to older drivers include impaired vision, diminished cognition,

    and decreased motor-function (Carr, Duchek, Meuser, and Morris, 2006).

    Current road designs should be reviewed to determine whether modifications are necessary to

    better accommodate Delaware’s older drivers. Possible modifications include making

    intersections more driver- and pedestrian-friendly and improving traffic signs and signal design.

    Additionally, comprehensive assessment, education, and outreach programs can assist

    individuals, families, and physicians facilitate discussions about driving and promote mobility

    and independence among older Delawareans. Like other states that are addressing this issue,

    Delaware should apply resources for such modifications and initiatives to areas that pose the

    greatest safety concerns. Chosen areas should be based on the state’s current and projected

    demographic trends as well as crash data. Better coordination and collaboration among state

    advocacy groups and agencies will also foster overall improved awareness and education for

    individuals and their families who are concerned about the potential risks associated with older


    This paper begins with an overview of the issues and implications related to driving and longterm

    mobility. Sections 1-5 are part of a literature review that includes research studies, case

    studies, and best practices on subtopics related to older drivers. These subtopics include

    intersection design, traffic signs and signal design, and education and awareness programs.

    Finally, Section 6 provides a list of priorities and recommendations for considered by units of the

    Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) and other state agencies based on the

    Delaware’s demographics trends and current transportation-planning practices and resources.

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