Understanding Older Drivers

The major­i­ty of old­er peo­ple are active dri­vers today. In 2011, well over 86 per­cent of peo­ple 65 and old­er were dri­vers. That means that more than one out of six dri­vers on the road in the Unit­ed States are 65 and old­er. Most old­er peo­ple are safe dri­vers, but as they age they may expe­ri­ence more crash­es and suf­fer high­er injury and fatal­i­ty risks.

The AAA Foun­da­tion has embarked on a long-term study of old­er dri­vers that aims to answer key ques­tions about med­ical con­di­tions, med­ica­tion usage, trav­el behav­iors, and mobil­i­ty options for seniors who no longer dri­ve.

Key Find­ings – Licens­ing and Trav­el Pat­terns

Old­er dri­vers are an active group:
Over 75% of male dri­vers and 60% of female dri­vers over age 85 drove five or more days per week; and
Among the same group, few­er than 5% of men and 10% of women drove less than once a week.

Licens­ing rates have increased sharply among old­er dri­vers:
In the ear­ly 1970s, bare­ly half of all Amer­i­cans ages 65 and old­er had licens­es;
By 2010, this had increased to almost 84%.

Between 1990 and 2009, every mea­sure indi­cates increased auto­mo­bil­i­ty of old­er dri­vers:
Dai­ly trav­el pat­terns for dri­vers 65+ indi­cate more trips, more miles dri­ven, and more time spent dri­ving in 2009 than 1990.

Key Find­ings – Med­ical Con­di­tions and Med­ica­tion Use

Old­er dri­vers are sig­nif­i­cant­ly more like­ly to report a med­ical con­di­tion than younger dri­vers:
Dri­vers ages 65–69 are twice as like­ly to report hav­ing a med­ical con­di­tion as dri­vers 24–64.

Med­ica­tion use is very high among old­er dri­vers:
Over 90% of old­er dri­vers take pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tions; and
Of those who take any med­ica­tion, over two-thirds take mul­ti­ple med­ica­tions.

Gen­der dif­fer­ences are extreme­ly large in all aspects of med­ica­tion use, trav­el behav­ior, and dri­ving self-reg­u­la­tion among motorists ages 65 and old­er:
Women with­out a med­ical con­di­tion dri­ve less than men with a med­ical con­di­tion;
Women dri­vers who use med­ica­tions or who have a med­ical con­di­tion are more like­ly to self-reg­u­late their dri­ving than are com­pa­ra­ble men; and
Women are more like­ly to report hav­ing a med­ical con­di­tion and using mul­ti­ple med­ica­tions.

Old­er dri­vers who report using med­ica­tions or hav­ing a med­ical con­di­tion are more like­ly to self-reg­u­late their dri­ving behav­ior:
Three-quar­ters of dri­vers ages 65 and old­er who have a med­ical con­di­tion report reduced dai­ly trav­el;
Old­er dri­vers using med­ica­tions avoid night dri­ving at dou­ble the rate of dri­vers ages 24–64; and
Old­er dri­vers using med­ica­tions dri­ve few­er days each week.

Income appears to play a role in ways that war­rant future research:
Self-reg­u­la­to­ry behav­ior declines with increas­ing income among peo­ple tak­ing mul­ti­ple med­ica­tions or who have a med­ical con­di­tion; and
Women dri­vers ages 65–69 with incomes under $13,000 were 62% more like­ly to restrict night­time dri­ving than women of the same age with incomes over $70,000.

For more infor­ma­tion on this study and the AAA Foundation’s oth­er senior safe­ty research and mate­ri­als, please vis­it AAAFoundation.org.




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