FHWA’s Beyond Traffic estimates nearly 20% of U.S. drivers are 65 and older

(Phto: VCU CNS / Flickr)(Phto: VCU CNS / Flickr)

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) preliminary data from its 30-year “Beyond Traffic” study estimates roughly 20 percent of all U.S. drivers are more than 65 years old. That demographic is expected to grow another 77 percent by 2045, according to the data.

The Beyond Traffic study collected data from all 50 states and Washington, D.C,. and will be published later this year in the agency’s annual Highway Statistics report. “The data reflect the growing demands on the U.S. highway system and inform decisions by transportation policy makers, researchers and academia,” FHWA says.

Data from the study indicates the U.S. had 217.9 million licensed drivers last year, with the 65 and older demographic increasing 2 percent over the previous year to 42.8 million. FHWA says this is the largest single-year percentage increase for that demographic. The number of octogenarians (and older) who are driving increased by 1.1 percent since 2014.

The agency is keeping this aging populace in mind with the continued development and improvement of highway safety enhancements. FHWA says it considers factors such as declining vision, decreased flexibility and psychomotor performance and changes in “perceptual and cognitive performance.”

It reports “innovations” to meet these needs include longer merge lanes, roundabouts, better lighting, more visible signage among other intersection improvements.

Teen drivers increased for the first time in two years, reaching 8.7 million. But this figure is still near record lows, the agency says. In 2008 there were almost 10 million teen drivers. Millennial drivers (age 20-34) account for almost 25 percent of the total at 56 million.

Women drivers totaled 110.4 million and men drivers reached 107.6 million. There have been more women drivers than men drivers since 2005.

More details on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Beyond Traffic report and initiative are available at https://www.transportation.gov/BeyondTraffic.