AgeLab Director Joe Coughlin discusses the future of safe mobility for older drivers on the New York Time’s Room For Debate. His opinion piece, entitled “How to Avoid a Surge of Shut-Ins”, discusses how the number of drivers over 70 will triple over the next 20 years and lays out the demands on transportation that this shift in demographics calls for.
Coughlin argues that in-vehicle technology must continue to advance to compensate for driver error. Education will be important so that drivers can trust and properly interact with intelligent vehicles.
He also calls for a reinvention of public transportation.
“Nearly 70 percent of 50-plus Americans live in suburban and rural areas where transit does not serve or serve well,” writes Coughlin, “Creatively using technology to rethink public transportation, as a network of vehicles not a network of routes, will ensure that tomorrow’s transit provides access where people live and the flexibility to provide life trips not just work trips.”
He brings forth AgeLab research regarding current retirement communities to demonstrate how most housing options lack vital access to transportation. Successful aging-in-place, he claims, is a challenge to policy makers and developers to redesign communities and improve livability.
Contributors to the discussion include Senior Vice President of AARP, Elinor Ginzler, who supports policy reforms that ensure walkability. She argues “complete streets” are a safer environment for drivers, transit riders, pedestrians and cyclists. Senior economist at RAND David S. Loughran and associate professor of geriatrics at Yale School of Medicine Richard A. Marottoli also gave insights regarding autonomous vehicles, self-regulating driving behavior and on-road training for improved older driver safety.
Coughlin is co-editor, along with AgeLab researcher Lisa D’Ambrosio, of the forthcoming book, “Aging America and Transportation”