Exploring Older Adults’ Mobility Challenges and Preferences Before and After COVID-19 Pandemic

The world-wide pandemic of COVID-19 have influenced older adults (65+ years) more than any other age groups. Older adults are more likely to have health problems and/or weak immune systems. Hence, they have been at higher risk for severe illness. In addition, the statistics show that older adults have a disproportionate number of deaths in the United States and elsewhere due to the coronavirus. Considering the life threats of this infectious disease among older adults, transportation plays a critical role in maintaining older adults’ safety while providing mobility to meet their essential needs such as access to health care. Beyond driving, older adults have few mobility options (e.g., using taxi, public transit, Uber/Lyft). During pandemic period such as COVID 19, safe mobility options for older adults become even more limited. In 2019, the share of senior Americans (with 65 years old and above) from the total US population was about 16.5% and is predicted to reach 22% by 2050. It should be noted that this is a significant increase in senior Americans’ share of the total US population compared to 1950 in which merely 8% of the whole population was 65 or above (US Census Bureau, 2020). Since the population in USA is aging (like other developed countries), it is very crucial to examine older road users’ opinions, preferences and needs regarding the necessary transportation options that should be provided (during normal times as well as pandemic periods like COVID-19) to maintain their mobility and quality of life. Fortunately, autonomous vehicles (AV) technology can provide a safe mode of transportation for older adults and persons with disabilities (especially those who no longer can drive safely) during infectious disease epidemics. Although previous research showed a lack of trust and willingness among older population to use AVs, there is no sufficient evidence about the changes in their attitudes, concerns, and willingness to use AVs including shared automated vehicles (e.g., driverless taxi) after experiencing COVID-19 pandemic. Considering these gaps in the literature, the primary objectives of this study are to: (1) Examine older Americans’ mobility challenges to use current transportation modes (e.g., driving private automobile, using public transit, taxi, shared rides such as Uber) before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. (2) Explore the changes in concerns, preferences, and willingness of older Americans to use autonomous vehicles before and after the pandemic. (3) Identify and quantify the contributing factors affecting older adults’ willingness and concerns to use different levels of autonomous vehicle technology including shared autonomous vehicles (shared taxi). It is expected that the results of this study will provide actionable countermeasures to mitigate older adults’ mobility challenges especially during epidemic conditions such as COVID 19. The findings of this study are believed to shed light on key mobility challenges and preferences of older adults, which provide transportation authorities and car manufacturers with valuable insight about the future direction of autonomous vehicles in terms of technological needs, policy, design, and planning.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • 22MLSU22


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $90215
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Transportation Consortium of South-Central States (Tran-SET)

    Louisiana State University
    Baton Rouge, LA  United States  70803
  • Project Managers:

    Mousa, Momen

  • Performing Organizations:

    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

    P.O. Box 94245, Capitol Station
    Baton Rouge, LA  United States  70803
  • Principal Investigators:

    Hassan, Hany

  • Start Date: 20220401
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers Program

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01844767
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Consortium of South-Central States (Tran-SET)
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747106
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: May 6 2022 11:27AM