The August 10 meeting of the Human Service Advocacy Network (HSAN) featured special guest Randy Cole, Executive Director of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission. His remarks to the approximately 30 attendees touched on a number of topics that impact the world of transportation, including both the rapid advancement of technology and the change in mobility in the United States and around the world.
[Ridesharing platforms] are already shaping how those in the aging community are able to travel to non-emergency medical appointments
Cole explained the history of the automobile and frequently talked about the disruption of the then-dominant transportation methods of horses and trains. He also talked about how cars in their early stages of development were considered implausible and cutting-edge, though the technology in present day would be considered primitive. Cole argued that today there are similar disruptions in the way we view automobiles, with the increasing popularity of ridesharing and ride hailing platforms such as Uber, Lyft and Zipcar.How can advancements in transportation technology provide independence among older people and those with disabilities? Find out here Click To Tweet
He discussed how health and human services will be impacted by these disruptive technologies, as they are already shaping how those in the aging community are able to travel to non-emergency medical appointments, as well as retain the ability to go to places on their own. The freedom to do things like shop at a grocery store or participating in other everyday activities creates a sense of freedom and independence that can greatly increase quality of life.
Cole explained that the government will play a large role in helping to facilitate these interactions. He also said that nonprofit organizations and service providers should be prepared with both short and long-term strategies on how to engage these emerging technologies. He explained that there are already changes taking place, using the example of AAA, a 100-year old organization that supports drivers. Cole said that AAA currently has more than 55 million people who are members, but also pointed out that the popular Waze app has rapidly built up more than 65 million users, who constantly ensure real-time updates to road conditions that could affect mobility.
The freedom to do things like shop at a grocery store or participating in other everyday activities creates a sense of freedom and independence that can greatly increase quality of life.
Even with the rise of ride-sharing apps, while the number of individuals who have die from drunk driving accidents has gone down, Cole said that the number of individuals killed in crashes, most of which are caused by human error, remains unacceptably high. Cole cited the high number of automobile traffic injuries and fatalities versus accidents in other methods of transportation as the driving force behind his efforts to increase public safety. He stated that, in his opinion, there are no “accidents,” but rather “crashes,” because of the high percentage of crashes that are due to human error. He argued that even though cars are equipped to be safer in crashes, we are a more distracted nation meaning that advocates are still responsible for exploring methods to create a safer riding environment through the use of automation and technology. He also referenced his own family, saying that he knows individuals with developmental disabilities may feel a loss of freedom by not having the same access to transportation technology as their fellow citizens. He said that he looks forward to the day when those who have developmental disabilities do not feel that loss of freedom and independence that one might feel today.
Individuals with developmental disabilities may feel a loss of freedom by not having the same access to transportation technology as their fellow citizens.
The next HSAN meeting will take place on December 14 and will feature special guests State Senator John Eklund (R-Chardon) and State Representative Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood). When available, more details about the fourth HSAN of 2018 will be released on CommunitySolutions.com.