Age, health & driving

01 March 2002

During 1994-1995, the University of Manchester administered an older driver's questionnaire to 1,780 drivers who were then aged between 54 and 99 years. The results were published as When and why older drivers give up driving by the AA Foundation for Road Safety Research in 1996. A subset of 395 of these individuals who were still active motorists again completed the same questionnaire during 1997-1998.

Analysis of the comparative data showed that, while variations between individuals were very large, estimates of weekly mileage significantly declined with age. The two cross-sectional estimates of decline in mileage obtained in 1994-1995 and 1998-1999 agreed closely with each other, and with the longitudinally assessed reduction between these two time points. Reduction in mileage between 1994-1995 and 1998-1999 was predicted by health status in 1998-1999 and by decline in health status between these time points. It is suggested that the sequence of causality is that reduced driving is related to changes in health, but the immediate factor in instigating these reductions is a decline in confidence in driving competence. That is, older drivers monitor their performance and react appropriately when they feel that their performance is becoming adversely affected by poor health, or for other reasons.