Center Identification Number: 77601
Project Title: Transit Use Viability Among Older Drivers Losing Driving Privileges
Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
External Project Contact:
Amy W. Datz
Public Transportation Office / Transit Planning
I. Project Objective
With an aging national population and a particularly high concentration of older persons in Florida, it is very important to understand older adult travel needs and behaviors particularly at a point in time when they are no longer able to drive. This project is intended to provide additional insight into travel behavior changes for persons who lose their driving privileges, particularly their interest in, ability to, and subsequent use of public transit.
II. Project Abstract
Effective January 1, 2004, Florida statue subsection (5) of section 322.18, requires drivers over 79 years or older pass vision tests when renewing their six-year licenses. Florida currently has an estimated 726,000 drivers who are 80 years or older. If 5 percent failed the vision test, annually about 6,000 drivers would need to look for alternative modes of transportation to remain an active member of their communities. Public transit, if available, can be a viable option for many of them. Being taken off the road for poor vision reasons, it is likely that many of them would still be physically able to use transit. This new law will produce a group of travelers that could provide a great resource in understanding travel behavior changes and mode choice after driving cessation. Knowledge of how this group responds will provide valuable insight into travel and transit use by the growing population of older Americans. This idea proposes to monitor the choices these older drivers make in terms of travel arrangements after they lose their driversí license. Created by the law, the Florida At-Risk Driver Council is supposed to recommend alternative modes of transportation for seniors who can no longer safely drive. The project will work with this Council as well as the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to establish a monitoring process. It is likely that this process would involve quarterly surveys of these older drivers about their travel arrangements and the role public transit plays in these arrangements.
III. Task Descriptions
Task 1: Relationship with Other Agencies
The initial task will involve a series of meeting with various agencies to explore the availability of data, critical policy issues and early experience since the Florida vision testing program took affect. Among the groups that will be contacted are: The National Older Drivers Research and Training Center, the Florida At-Risk Driver Council, and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Various older person interest groups may also be contacted as possible partners or sources of information on the affected population. Legal participation may be used in meetings to carefully define issues relating to access to the data and/or requirements regarding establishing a sample population enrollment process. The nature and even viability of the project could be affected by findings in the first task. This task will also include the development of a project review team.
Task 2: Literature Review
There are several bodies of literature that can be consulted to develop a strong context knowledge that will both help shape the data collection phase and enable the researchers to better understand how the findings from this work can be generalized to a larger population or context. The literature areas to be consulted include: driving cessation, both voluntary and forced, travel arrangements after cessation, role of transit in these arrangements, design of survey instruments/data collection for senior population, lessons in conducting surveys of older persons.
Task 3: Research Design
This task will involve refining the actual data collection and analysis plan in light of the project goals, knowledge about legal and practical experience in collecting this type of information from this population, and possible data processing methods. The project team may have to make tradeoffs between content and methods in light of cost and other constraints. An initial step will be to determine working hypotheses. Among the kinds of questions that one would like to be able to answer through this research are:
∑ Has the fear of the vision exam contributed to voluntary relinquishing of licenses?
∑ To what extent is the mobility impact of losing a license related to household characteristics?
∑ How has travel changed as a result of losing driving privileges (mode, frequency, temporal distribution, trip purpose)?
∑ How long after losing a license did it take for new travel patterns to stabilize?
∑ How has the willingness or attitude to transit travel been impacted by transit availability at the home and common trip destinations?
∑ Has the willingness or attitude toward transit use been impacted by the prior knowledge/experience using transit?
∑ Has the vision condition that resulted in losing a license impacted the ability to use fixed route or paratransit?
∑ What transit service characteristics would make transit a viable alternative for travel option?
The research team will then have to explore various data collection strategies such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups. The possibility of travel diaries, exploration of how one might collect information about prior travel, and the prospect of doing longitudinal data collections (resurvey after a period of time to see how behavior has changes) will be explored.
The data collection sampling and analysis strategies will be finalized and appropriate approvals received. Issues such as confidentiality and incentives for participation will be addressed.
Task 3 will also involve the development of Technical Memorandum 1 which will document the findings in the first three tasks. This memorandum will be provided to the FDOT project manager and the review committee for comment.
Task 4: Identifying and Locating Older Drivers
Task 1 will resolve the issue of availability of access to records of licensees who failed their vision exam. The prospect of identifying situations where there is a voluntary relinquishing of licenses will also be explored. Alternative strategies for enrolling drivers who relinquished their licenses will be explored in Task 1. This task will then develop a sample or enrolment strategy given the available information. This task will also design a strategy for obtaining commitment for participating in the research.
Task 5: Conducting Surveys
This task will involve carrying out the resultant data collection strategy(ies).
Task 6: Data Analysis
This task will involve analyzing the data. This may include some statistical analysis as well as qualitative analysis of the data. It is envisioned that there would be substantial descriptive information produced as well as interpretation of the data by the project team in terms of the policy implications in general and specifically with respect to public transit. Regarding public transit this might include information about attitudes, service design priorities, information/marketing considerations, and market potential.
The project team should be in a position to comment on the extent to which the results can be generalized to other locations and contexts. The project team should also be in a position to identify what, if any; additional research activities would be of value. This might include follow-up resurveys to observe changes as time passes or expansion to other geographic areas or other groups who relinquish their licenses.
Task 7: Final Report
This task will involve documenting the project and its findings in a final report. The draft of the report will be provided to FDOT and the review committee. A 30 day review period and a 30 day response period are shown in the schedule.
IV. Project Schedule
Project Start Date: December 1, 2004
Notes: The project team will include faculty, students, and secretarial and other support staff who will work directly on the project and whose costs are reflected in the direct costs of the project as listed above. Budget request includes salary for clerical and administrative staff, postage, local telephone service, office supplies, general purpose software, subscriptions, and/or memberships.
Domestic travel is budgeted to include 5 person trips at $300 each to meet with various parties regarding survey design and access to driver information. Travel will be in state.
VI. Student Involvement
Graduate students may provide assistance with the literature review, research and data collection, qualitative and quantitative analyses, and/or report writing.
VII. Technology Transfer Activities
The results of this analysis will be provided to the FDOT through a technical memorandum and a final report, as outlined above. Copies of the final report will be provided to the Research Office, the State Public Transportation Administrator, the Manager of the Transit Office, DOEA, and those entities that participate on the review panel or support the project in other ways. Information will also be made available through the CUTR and NCTR websites and presentations at state and national conferences.
VIII. Potential Benefits of the Project
This project offers an opportunity to develop a richer understanding of travel behavior for a segment of the population that is rapidly growing. It offers promise for helping to inform general policy regarding travel by the older population and to specifically provide recommendations and information that the public transit industry and policy makers can use in planning, designing and marketing services.
IX. TRB Keywords
Driving cessation, elderly travel, paratransit, vision screening
National Center for Transit Research ∑ at the Center For Urban Transportation Research ∑ University of South Florida ∑ 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 ∑ Tampa, FL 33620-5375 ∑ (813) 974-3120 ∑ (813) 974-5168 ∑ www.nctr.usf.edu ∑ Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org