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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation
FHWA Highway Safety Programs

Handbook for Designing Roadways for the Aging Population

June 2014


The proportion of the United States population age 65 and over will increase significantly in the coming decades. The effects of aging on people as drivers and pedestrians are highly individual. Challenges that may impact people as they age include declining vision, decreased flexibility and psychomotor performance, and changes in perceptual and cognitive performance. Design practices that explicitly recognize these changes will better serve this growing segment of the nation's population.

This Handbook for Designing Roadways for the Aging Population provides practitioners with a practical information source that links aging road user performance to highway design, operational, and traffic engineering features. This Handbook supplements existing standards and guidelines in the areas of highway geometry, operations, and traffic control devices.

The information in this Handbook should be of interest to highway designers, traffic engineers, and highway safety specialists involved in the design and operation of highway facilities. In addition, this Handbook will be of interest to researchers concerned with issues of aging road user safety and mobility.

The Handbook is also available online at

Tony Furst
Associate Administrator for Safety
Federal Highway Administration


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information.

FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.
2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle
Handbook for Designing Roadways for the Aging Population
5. Report Date
June 2014
6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)
Marcus Brewer, Debbie Murillo, Alan Pate

Authors of Previous Draft
David Harkey, Loren Staplin, Kathy Lococo, Raghavan Srinivasan, Jongdae Baek, Michael Daul, Hugh McGee, Michael Tantillo
8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Texas A&M Transportation Institute
2935 Research Parkway
College Station, Texas 77845

505 King Avenue
Columbus, OH 43201

Performing Organization Name and Address for Previous Draft

University of North Carolina
Highway Safety Research Center
730 ML King Blvd, CB #3430
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.
8300 Boone Blvd., Suite 700
Vienna, VA 22182

1722 Sumneytown Pike
Box 328
Kulpsville, PA 19443

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)
11. Contract or Grant No.
DTFH61-12-D-00046, TO T-13005
Contract or Grant No. for Previous Draft
DTFH61-05-D-00024, TO T-10-002
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Safety
1200 New Jersey Ave. S.E.
Washington, DC 20590-9898
13. Type of Report and Period Covered
Final Report
14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes
Government Task Manager (GTM): Rebecca Crowe
16. Abstract

The original Older Driver Highway Design Handbook was published by FHWA in 1998 (FHWA-RD-97-135). The 2nd edition, titled Highway Design Handbook for Older Drivers and Pedestrians (FHWA-RD-01-103) was published in 2001. This 3rd edition, under a new title, incorporates new research findings and treatments to improve the safety of the transportation system for the aging population.

The Handbook is divided into three sections. The first section explains how to use the Handbook to select treatments to address problems for aging drivers and pedestrians. The second section includes treatments for 51 proven and promising traffic control and design elements distributed among five categories: Intersections, Interchanges, Roadway Segments, Construction/Work Zones, and Highway-Rail Grade Crossings. The final section of the Handbook includes the rationale and supporting evidence for the treatments.

A website including all of the content of the Handbook is available at

17. Key Words
Safety, Highway Design, Traffic Operations, Driver Age, Driver Performance, Pedestrian, Human Factors, Vision, Attention, Perception, Cognition, Memory, Physical Ability, Risk Perception, Hazard Perception
18. Distribution Statement
No restrictions.
19. Security Classif.
(of this report)

20. Security Classif.
(of this page)

21. No. of Pages
22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized