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Pedestrians in a crosswalk near South Station in Boston.A woman in a wheelchair and her service dog traveling on a city sidewalk.Cars traveling around a rotary/roundabout.People sitting at an outdoor café on Newbury Street in Boston.A wheelchair user boarding a trolley in Portland, Oregon.A woman and her service dog at a crosswalk with detectable warnings in San Francisco.

Highway Design Handbook for Older Drivers and Pedestrians


Staplin, L. K.


United States, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Safety R&D.; Scientex Corportation.; TransAnalytics, LLC.


McLean, VA, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration


Limited Usefulness


This publication updated, revised, and expanded the Older Driver Highway Design Handbook published by FHWA in 1998. This resulting document incorporates new research findings and technical developments vis-à-vis older drivers (read: diminished capacity drivers), and contains extensive feedback from state, county, and municipal engineers. The book describes itself as a compendium of "practical information that links older road user characteristics to highway design, operational, and traffic engineering recommendations by addressing specific roadway features" and is meant for highway engineers as guidance when guidance in the AASHTO Green Book on "older drivers" is wanting. The book is divided into two parts: the first, in five chapters, covers design reccommendations; the second, in parallel chapters, covers rationale and supporting research for the guidelines. In the first part (38 pages), each guidance entry lists at a glance the relationship of a recommendation with the MUTCD, AASHTO Green Book, ITE Handbook, and 5 more traffic design manuals. ADAAG is not included.

When it comes to pedestrians, there is only one sentence that gives some physical and behavorial characteristics of pedestrians that aren't in the 85th percentile, the percentile for which engineers design (the "standard" pedestrian). To the author, pedestrians exist only in relation to traffic. Part One of this book offers little of value to sidewalk designers. The one exception is Section P of Chapter 1, a two-page section titled Pedestrian Crossing Design, Operation, and Control. It contains good information though it is separate from the sections where specific design features are discussed.

Part Two (147 pages) includes research papers, in corresponding chapters and sections to those in Part One, that provide information about the behavioral characteristics of drivers -- young, middle aged, and old; male, female. But like Part One, pedestrians are left out of the picture except for Section P noted above. One would expect some research covering how pedestrians cope with the various left turn options or right on red options. None was found in the two sections covering these operations. That was true also for non-signalized intersections, for stop signs, for lighting at intersections, for complexity of design, etcetera. However, Section P of Chapter 1, Pedestrian Crossing Design is a rare cornucopia of issues relating to pedestrian behaviors. While the research material is comprehensive, it is frustrating in that it deals exclusively with pedestrians in the interface with vehicles, not pedestrians as they use the sidewalks. And even where pedestrians cross vehicular paths, information is missing. As with Part I, it is unfortunate that the information in Section P is not integrated into the pertinent design sections. In summary, the document is essentially about older drivers, not pedestrians. By not including pedestrian issues in the same place a design feature is presented, designing for pedestrians becomes an afterthought. However, Section P of both parts is an unusual and valuable resource worthy of attention by a pedestrian design audience.

Number of Pages:



Highway Design Handbook for Older Drivers and Pedestrians (PDF) (

Table of Contents?






Material Type:

Web Page, Book


Available through National Technical Information Service

Key Document?



Guidelines, Research, Design Development


Elderly Drivers & Pedestrians, Highway Design


Section P of Chapter 1, both parts, could be useful to planners and designers. Presents both proscriptive and performance criteria with rationale.


Missing many items and information addressing pedestrians, specifically pedestrians of lesser abilities.

Suggestions for Future Editions:

Future editions should address pedestrian issues more thoroughly, and should address them when discussing a design feature. Future editions should at least mention ADAAG, and should integrate access issues within the total document.

Record Last Updated:

July 2006


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