Examining the process of driving cessation in later life

Eur J Ageing. 2012 Nov 7;10(2):89-100. doi: 10.1007/s10433-012-0252-6. eCollection 2013 Jun.


Driving cessation for many older people is associated with a poorer quality of life and can lead to health problems such as depression. This paper aims to reveal the process of giving-up driving, examining in particular triggers for giving-up driving, how information on alternative modes of transport is sought and how new transport and travel behaviour is integrated into older people's lives. It examines the challenges faced and how these are overcome and what impact the process has on self-reported quality of life, as articulated by the participants themselves. To this end, twenty-one individuals from three locations in the United Kingdom (UK) were followed over a period of 10 months, through five waves of data collection. Each participant took part in three interviews, a focus group and completed a diary of travel behaviour. Findings suggest that although a similar pattern was found between the trigger and life post-car, not all older people go through the stages of giving-up driving in the same way. Instead, a range of responses are seen, from contemplation of gradually reducing driving, through to stopping abruptly, with the route taken having consequences for the eventual outcome for any individual. Triggers for contemplating driving cessation could be varied and often involved health and social factors. Importantly, people who engaged in pre-planning reported a relatively higher quality of life beyond the car, whilst for those who were more reactive and engaged in little or no pre-planning a poorer quality of life resulted. In addition (and in conjunction with planning), other factors, such as flexibility in travel destinations, the role of family and friends, and wider support networks are also seen as important. With such evidence of the importance of pre-planning it is suggested that more could be done to support giving-up driving and encouraging contemplation at a younger age to mitigate the negative effects experienced by some.

Keywords: Cars; Driving; Independence; Qualitative; Quality of life.