Florida State University’s Institute for Successful Longevity is helping the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to find out the best way of explaining new roads and signals to drivers, especially Florida’s growing population of older drivers.

For years, the Florida DOT has produced ‘tip cards’ to explain new features such as warning lights to drivers. The Institute for Successful Longevity will study the effectiveness of the tip cards and provide recommended guidelines for their creation and use.

“Two-thirds of Floridians 65 or older drive,” said Neil Charness, director of the institute and principal investigator of the study. “That means millions of drivers on our roads may have some limitations in vision, for example, or in cognition. We need to take these limitations into account when we consider how best to explain any changes on our state’s roadways.”

Charness and the institute are bringing together experts in psychology and communications to look at how to make the driver tip cards easily and fully understood by all.

“Most Floridians continue to drive long past retirement,” he said. “Among Floridians 80 years old or older, half are still behind the wheel. This presents serious challenges to those responsible for keeping our highways safe and functional for everyone. Clear communication is key.”

FDOT staff members distribute the tip cards to senior centers around the state and share the cards when they speak to groups of older drivers.