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The safe mobility of older drivers: a challenge for urban road designers


  • Oxley, Jennifer
  • Langford, Jim
  • Charlton, Judith


For many older adults in most of the Western world, continued mobility (with associated health, well-being, independence and quality of life) means access to a private vehicle, either as a driver or as a passenger. However older driver serious injury and fatality rates per distance travelled are higher than middle-aged drivers, and crash and injury rates are likely to increase in the coming decades as a result of the ageing population, increased car ownership and overall travel amongst older people. Evidence suggests that contributory factors to this high risk are (for most) frailty, (for some) the high proportion of driving in urban areas, and (for a few) reduced fitness to drive as a result of medical conditions and associated functional limitations. Australasia has recently adopted the ‘Safe System’ approach which aims to manage vehicles, the road infrastructure, speeds, and the interactions between these components, to ensure that when crashes do occur, crash energies will remain at levels that minimize the probability of death and serious injury. A system which aspires to achieving Safe System objectives cannot ignore the challenges that older road users pose – and will pose – to the transport system. This paper discusses the so-called ‘older driver problem’, presents crash data and evidence of the impacts of driving location and reduced fitness to drive on crash risk, and recommends countermeasures within the ‘Safe System’ context, with particular reference to urban road design and operation.

Suggested Citation

  • Oxley, Jennifer & Langford, Jim & Charlton, Judith, 2010. "The safe mobility of older drivers: a challenge for urban road designers," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 642-648.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jotrge:v:18:y:2010:i:5:p:642-648
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2010.04.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Retting, R.A. & Persaud, B.N. & Garder, P.E. & Lord, D., 2001. "Crash and injury reduction following installation of roundabouts in the United States," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 91(4), pages 628-631.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hubers, Christa & Lyons, Glenn, 2013. "New technologies for the old: Potential implications of living in later life for travel demand," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 220-228.
    2. Johnson, Rebecca & Shaw, Jon & Berding, Jörn & Gather, Matthias & Rebstock, Markus, 2017. "European national government approaches to older people's transport system needs," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 17-27.


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