As older adults reduce their driving, men report struggling more than women and having fewer resources for making important life decisions.
According to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, when compared to women, men over 65 who have reduced driving in the last year report lower levels of social support when it comes to advice, suggestions and information about issues they may be facing.
“When it comes to older drivers, data from our study suggests there are social support differences between older male and female drivers,” said Mary Maguire, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs for AAA Northeast.
Of the study’s nearly 3,000 participants, 1 in 5 older drivers reported reducing driving in the past year, with more women, 57%, than men, 43%, saying they had cut back on driving.
“Men and women who have reduced driving report similar levels of care and emotional support from friends and family, but older male drivers find it harder to seek out advice and guidance,” Ms. Maguire said.
Past AAA Foundation research has found that many older adults reduce their driving, or self-regulate, to daytime, short trips, or familiar locations due to health issues and it can lead to overall declines in life satisfaction.
“Cutting back on driving may threaten older drivers’ sense of independence and emotional well-being, and it limits their ability to maintain social ties, remain active and engaged, and manage healthcare,” said AAA Northeast Senior Public Affairs manager Diana Imondi. “Just like planning ahead for financial and healthcare needs in retirement, finding out more about local mobility choices – even before they are needed – can allow an older driver to plan for the day when it makes sense to limit or stop driving.”
AAA suggests older drivers and their families speak with their physicians in addition to exploring alternative forms of transportation and recognize that these options may complement their driving. Transportation alternatives vary from city to city, so AAA suggests the following:
• Carpooling – Sharing a ride with friends or neighbors is one way for older adults who limit driving.
• Public Transportation – When available, city buses, light rail and subway systems are great ways to get around. By planning ahead, an older driver can build up a comfort level with public transportation services to prepare for a time when he or she may have to limit or stop driving.
• Local Transportation Services – If the cost of a taxi or difficulty walking to a bus stop are obstacles to using public transit, an older adult could benefit from using low-cost, community-based transportation services.
• Ridesharing – If older adults have a smartphone, they can download a rideshare app to help with local transportation.
Initiating a conversation about safe driving with an older driver, especially a parent, is challenging for most people. While there is no simple or easy way to address the subject, AAA is here to help. Visit seniordriving.aaa.com for some important tips.
The findings are part of the AAA LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) study, a multi-year research program to better understand and meet the safety and mobility needs of older drivers in the United States. The research was performed at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health with support from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
To find out more about the report, visit Newsroom.AAA.com.