Driving cessation: what older former drivers tell us

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2001 Apr;49(4):431-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1532-5415.2001.49087.x.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Aged*
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Automobile Driving*
  • California
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged