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Model development and exploration into the driving decisions of older adults

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
With advanced age, declines in physical and/or cognitive abilities make driving more difficult, and challenge the individual to make decisions about their driving. The main aim of this research was to explore how older adults make day-to-day decisions about driving, and how others’ opinions influence them. This thesis addresses major gaps in the published literature on older driver decision processes, and how these processes differ across gender and habit strength for driving. An integrative mixed methods approach was used to study a convenience sample of 37 urban dwelling drivers, age 70 years and older. This exploratory research reveals that decisions about driving are dependent upon at least three main features: 1) interpretation of the driving environment; 2) types of information used and decision processes employed; and 3) influence other’s opinions on driving decisions.Main findings are that older drivers evaluate their driving experience using three distinct components: 1) the driving environment; 2) people who drive; and 3) crashes. In the decision-making process, older drivers are characterized by their dynamic use of information wherein an item may be used to support the decision to drive some instances, but in other instances used in choices not to drive. Three categories of items are identified in a proposed Older Driver Decision Components Framework, and reflect this dynamic process: Motivators, Constraints/Motivators, and Context. Additionally, three groups of older drivers are identified based on their driving choices, and defined by characteristics such as gender, age, and habit for driving. Responses to comments about their driving also help define these groups. Results of the study provide a new direction for research on the older driver, and models are developed that may be used to form a basis for understanding older driver decision-making. Refinement of our knowledge about how elders assess their driving environment, and the subsequent choices they make, should be pursued to better understand how they adjust their transportation needs and desires to age-related changes. In turn, this knowledge may be used to design programs and policies to support the safe driving of our aging population.
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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Wister, Andrew
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etd9976_GCaragata.pdf 6.15 MB

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