Objectives: To understand why older drivers living in a community setting stop driving.
Design: A cross-sectional study within a longitudinal cohort.
Setting: A geographically defined community in southern California.
Participants: 1,950 respondents age 55 and older who reported ever being licensed drivers.
Measurements: A mailed survey instrument of self-reported driving habits linked to prior demographic, health, and medical information.
Results: Of the 1,950 eligible respondents, 141 had stopped driving within the previous 5 years. Among those who stopped, mean age was 85.5 years, 65.2% were female, and the majority reported they were in very good (43.4%) or good (34.0%) health. Nearly two-thirds reported driving less than 50 miles per week prior to stopping and 12.1% reported a motor vehicle crash during the previous 5 years. The most common reasons reported for stopping were medical (41.0%) and age-related (19.4%). In bivariate analyses, age and miles driven per week were each associated with cessation (P < or = .001). Medical conditions, crashes in the previous 5 years, and gender did not reach statistical significance at the P < or = .05 level. Logistic regression results found that the number of medical conditions was inversely associated with driving cessation.
Conclusion: The relationship between medical conditions and driving is complex; while medical conditions were the most common reason given for driving cessation, those who stopped had fewer medical conditions than current drivers. This suggests that a broader measure of general health or functional ability may play a dominant role in decisions to stop driving.