Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Older drivers are less likely to see pedestrians than younger drivers

A new study (reported in the LA Times here) suggests that older drivers are affected by a narrowing field of vision and are less likely to see pedestrians and other activities on the sidewalk than younger drivers. They also drive more slowly, for what it's worth, perhaps because their limited vision acts as a natural traffic calming device.

On a related note, many people argue that older drivers will eventually give up driving and will seek walkable, transit oriented communities in which to live. This quote from a Streetsblog writer explains this idea:
I think one of the best arguments for walkable urbanism is how it benefits seniors. People who can’t or don’t want to drive, even just at night, are much more free and mobile in an area where they can get their needs met by foot or by transit. Walkability isn’t just for young people.

But I am curious how big an effect this will be. I think it is a better speculative claim than evidence based claim. Older generations of Americans have never been transit users. They have driven their entire lives. I'm skeptical that there will be a large shift in preferences towards walking and transit for older generations at this stage of their lives.

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