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The Role of Flexible Delineators in Safeguarding Today’s Driving Population

Flexible delineators protect the public without causing undue vehicular or bodily harm.  This feature will become ever more important in coming years due to the aging of America’s driving population.

Modern medical technology is enabling Americans to live longer, more active lives than ever before.  In most ways, this is a blessing for all involved.  However, aging affects a person’s driving ability in many ways, including:

  • Impaired cognitive processing.  In simple terms, it takes older people more time to perceive what’s going on around them and to react accordingly.  This has serious potential consequences when it comes to driving.  For example, it can take a 75-year-old motorist twice as long to react to road conditions when compared to a driver in their 20s or 30s.  This problem is exacerbated when the unexpected occurs, such as coming across the scene of an accident.
  • Reduced visual acuity.  The MUTCD specifies the use of high-visibility flexible delineators to guide motorists through changes in road layout and/or elevation.  However, older drivers may not see these markers until they’re almost upon them, increasing the likelihood of a collision.
  • Greater possibility of impaired condition.  In general, aging people take far more medications than younger ones.  Many of these compounds have side effects like drowsiness or faintness that can greatly impair a person’s ability to control their vehicle.

Highway departments across the country are implementing measures to deal with these problems.  They’re installing larger, more visible road signs, offering training classes to senior drivers, and investigating the use of supplemental safety measures like flashing beacons and audible signals.  Despite these initiatives, ongoing changes in America’s driving population are likely to make accidents more common in days to come.  Flexible delineators may not be able to stop these incidents, but they can greatly reduce a collision’s severity.