An AARP Public Policy Institute report released today reveals that America's seniors make up a growing number and proportion of American drivers and public transportation users. The report presents the first detailed look at travel patterns of older Americans documented in the 2009 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) and reflects a growing population age 65 and older.

The AARP report "How the Travel Patterns of Older Adults Are Changing," notes that the use of public transportation among older Americans increased by 40 percent since 2001, and 15 percent of people age 65 and older reported using public transportation in the past month. It also found that 80 percent of the population age 65 and older drives a personal vehicle.

The report also predicts that older travelers will change the landscape of transportation in the coming years and concludes that transportation planners and policymakers must adapt to this shift. "Americans want to stay in their homes and communities as they age, which means our nation needs safe transportation options as boomers get older and want to maintain their independence," said Susan Reinhard, AARP's Senior Vice President for Public Policy.

AARP has also renewed its support for the reintroduction of two important pieces of legislation introduced today that would make roads and transportation safer and more user-friendly not only for older Americans, but for Americans of all ages.

The Safe and Complete Streets Act, bipartisan legislation sponsored by Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) and cosponsored by Representative Steven LaTourette (R-OH) ensures that federal transportation infrastructure investments provide safe travel for Americans whether they are driving, bicycling, walking, or taking public transportation. The Older Driver and Pedestrian Safety and Roadway Enhancement Act, reintroduced by Representative. Jason Altmire (D-PA), invests in roadway safety infrastructure improvements to meet design standards for the safety of older drivers and pedestrians.

"To make roads safer for drivers, transit users, bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities," said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond, "AARP encourages policymakers to adopt 'complete streets' policies and direct resources for low-cost, life-saving roadway improvements to accommodate the mobility needs of an aging population. Making roads safer for older Americans will make them safer for everyone."

By 2009, 12 percent of all trips in the United States were made by people age 65 and older, according to the report.

"Many older adults depend on their cars to live independently and when they don't have a ride, they walk," Reinhard said. "Improvements and investments in the travel environment - from roundabouts, left turn lanes and signals to lighting, retro-reflective signs, better road markings and crosswalks -- can make driving and walking safer for everyone."