Addressing Elderly Mobility Issues in Wisconsin

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September 2010
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March 2011
June 2011
September 2011
Survey
Research Brief
Final Report

Primary Investigator

Jason Bittner
University of Wisconsin-Madison
1415 Engineering Drive, 2205 EH
Madison, WI 53706

Abstract

The aging of baby boomers poses significant challenges to Wisconsin’s existing transportation infrastructure and specialized transit programs. From 2010 to 2035, the number of elderly Wisconsinites is projected to grow by 90 percent, an increase of 702,760 persons. By 2035, residents age 65 and over will comprise nearly a quarter of the population of Wisconsin, as every county in the state will experience growth in the elderly share of their population over the next 25 years. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2003 National Household Travel Survey found that personally-owned vehicles account for over 90 percent of trips taken by elderly residents; the extrapolation of this data suggests an overwhelming majority of Wisconsin’s future elderly residents will be accustomed to driving. Because elderly persons are vulnerable to a decline in visual, cognitive, and psychomotor skills, a dramatic increase in the number of elderly drivers has serious safety implications for the state. Elderly drivers are more likely to have crashes on a per-mile basis, more likely to be at fault in a multicar crash, and more likely to be killed or injured than are younger people in a crash of comparable magnitude. When elderly drivers are forced to stop driving or self-regulate in response to declining abilities and safety concerns, they face increased isolation from social, family, and civic activities and decreased access to medical services. These safety and social ramifications demand an examination of the state’s current driver licensing and education practices, infrastructure design protocols, and specialized and public transit efforts. The analysis of Wisconsin’s existing services, collection of input from elderly residents, and review of national and international best practices will allow the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) to better manage approaching demographic challenges.

Objectives

Increased efficiency and improved performance of WisDOT’s elderly transit services.

Tasks

  1. Review of current practice.
  2. Demographic analysis.
  3. Collecting input from elderly residents.
  4. Best practice review.
  5. Analysis and recommendations.
  6. Final report.

Project Information

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Dates: July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2011
  • Budget: $93,350
  • Student Involvement: One graduate student and one undergraduate
  • Modal Orientation: Highway
  • Project ID: CFIRE 04-05
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