Americans are not only driving at near-record levels these days, the number of drivers 50 and older is higher than ever, according to government data.
The Federal Highway Administration says that drivers over 50 account for nearly 45% of all licensed motorists on the roads: a jump of 22% since 2003. They accounted for 43.6% in 2012. The jump is partly due to the fact that younger drivers aren’t as quick to get a license as they have been in the past.
Perhaps even more important is that the fastest growing segment of drivers is those over 85, nearly doubling from 1.76 million in 1998 to 3.48 million in 2013 – the second-highest amount ever recorded.
As the driving population ages and it’s forcing the officials to rethink America’s highways and byways. By 2045, there will be a 77% increase in the number of drivers 65 and older.
“Knowing that older drivers are one of our fastest-growing populations helps us realize the importance of transportation investment – especially for research,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement.
“In the decades ahead, our roads will serve even more older drivers – making it critical that we invest in our nation’s infrastructure and use state-of-the-art research to ensure the road system is ready to meet their needs.”
There were 212.2 million licensed drivers in 2013 and drivers over 50 years old reached nearly 93.5 million in 2013.
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“From brighter, more visible highway signs and lane markings to pedestrian countdown signals, our research has done much to keep America’s aging population safe,” said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “We are far from done. Because safety is our top priority, we hope to increase transportation investments to build on the gains we’ve already made.”
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In fact, the Federal Highway Administration is working on a project to improve transportation in the U.S. by 2045. It’s put together a report called “Beyond Traffic” that examines some of the causes of traffic delays and potential solutions to those.
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Part of the project relies on an analysis of what the driving population will look like in the future and using that and other proposals to get feedback on what’s needed to improve how American’s move in the future.
“Beyond Traffic is intended to open a national dialogue about what our country really needs and why we need it,” Foxx said. “It is a draft survey of major forces impacting transportation and a discussion of potential solutions that can be adopted to address those forces. We hope it prompts a long- overdue national conversation. We also hope it generates a lot of thoughtful feedback to inform the final version. Our hope is to release a final product later in 2015. “