The Influence of the Transportation Environment on Driving Reduction and Cessation

Purpose of the Study: Driving is by far the most common mode of transportation in the United States, but driving ability is known to decline as people experience age-related functional declines. Some older adults respond to such declines by self-limiting their driving to situations with a low perceived risk of crashing, and many people eventually stop driving completely. Previous research has largely focused on individual and interpersonal predictors of driving reduction and cessation (DRC). The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of the transportation environment on DRC. Design and Methods: Data were combined from the Health and Retirement Study, the Urban Mobility Scorecard, and StreetMap North America (GIS data). Longitudinal survival analysis techniques were used to analyze seven waves of data spanning a 12-year period. Results: As roadway density and congestion increased in the environment, the odds of DRC also increased, even after controlling for individual and interpersonal predictors. Other predictors of DRC included demographics, relationship status, health, and household size. Implications: The current study identified an association between the transportation environment and DRC. Future research is needed to determine whether a causal link can be established. If so, modifications to the physical environment (e.g., creating livable communities with goods and services in close proximity) could reduce driving distances in order to improve older drivers ability to remain engaged in life. In addition, older individuals who wish to age in place should consider how their local transportation environment may affect their quality of life.