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Travel Patterns and Characteristics of Elderly Population in New York State: 2017 Update...

by Yuandong Liu, Ho-ling L Hwang, Md Majbah Uddin, Timothy R Reuscher, Shih-miao Chin
Publication Type
ORNL Report
Publication Date

According to US Census Bureau, the elderly population (individuals 65 years and older) has grown by over a third during the past decade (2010 to 2019), and by 3.2% from 2018 to 2019. It is essential for policymakers and planners to understand transportation issues associated with the elderly to meet their increasing travel demands. These issues include transportation and mobility of the elderly population, factors impacting their travel behavior, and transportation safety.

In this study, Oak Ridge National Laboratory was tasked by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to conduct a detailed examination of travel behaviors and identify patterns and trends of its elderly residents. The National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) was used as the primary data source to analyze subjects and address questions such as: Are there differences in traveler demographics between the elderly population and those of younger age groups who live in various New York State (NYS) regions, e.g., New York City (NYC), other urban areas of NYS, or other parts of the country? How do they compare with the population at large? Are there any regional differences (e.g., urban versus rural)? Do any unique travel characteristics or patterns exist within the elderly group? How did these patterns change over time?

In addition to the analysis of NHTS data, roadway travel safety concerns associated with elderly travelers were also investigated. Specifically, data on crashes involving the elderly (including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians) as captured in the Fatal Analysis Reporting System database was analyzed to examine elderly drivers and elderly pedestrian travel safety issues in NYS.

This study report provides a summary of travel behavior and social-demographic characteristics of NYS elderly residents. These statistics could be used to examine equity issue concerning elderly New Yorkers, as well as to evaluate how well their mobility needs are being met. With a deeper understanding of issues and needs that this special population group is facing, policymakers and transportation planners would be able to make informed decisions on transportation investments and design services that could better address them.