Adapting one’s driving habits to accommodate age-related changes

Science topics April 2018 Human behaviourRoad safetyTransport

By Sylviane LafontResearcher in epidemiology - TS2 Department, UMRESTTE laboratory

As they age, individuals experience a reduction in their physical, sensory and cognitive capacities. In some cases this reduction slight, but in others they are more marked. This can impair individuals’ driving capacities. In response to this reduction, most older drivers modify their driving habits. Recently, IFSTTAR has studied how this process, known as the “self-regulation of driving”, differs between men and women.


Identifying the factors that impact self-regulation of driving»

As they age, older drivers implement driving self-regulation strategies. Examples of these include reducing the mileage they drive, avoiding what they deem to be difficult driving situations, even to the point of giving up driving completely.

Laetitia Marie Dit Asse, a doctoral student at IFSTTAR, has studied the sensory, physical and cognitive deficits which prompt older male and female drivers to modify their driving habits, and those which have not been observed to lead to any change in driving activityi. This research was also very much concerned with the question of driving cessation among male and female drivers presenting with early stage dementia. The research was conducted on a group of almost 10,000 older persons who were monitored in the framework of a very large research project that INSERM has been conducting since 2000.



Adapting one’s driving habits to accommodate age-related changes - Ifsttar - Drawing : Joël Yerpez Ifsttar - all rights reserved

                                                                                                                      But where are they?

                                                                                                                                                           We said 10 o'clock in front of the night club!

                                                                                                                                                                          Send Ethel or Diedre a #bus timetable or a #Hubert!!


Women stop driving earlier

The research has found that when they feel their capacities are diminishing, women reduce their driving distances more, and do so earlier, than men. Men usually wait until they are confronted by a disease before they reduce their journeysii.

In the case of dementia, the vast majority of drivers, both male and female, who develop the syndrome stop driving earlier. However, women give up driving on average 4 years before diagnosis, compared with 2½ years for men. At the time of diagnosis, 45 % of men and 74 % of women have already stopped driving. Three years after diagnosis the probability of having ceased to drive is the same for both men and womeniii.



Thus, men and women do not approach the self-regulation of driving in the same way, either in the context of normal or pathological ageing. In contrast to men, women stop driving before the impairments affect their driving capacities or their day-to-day activities. Other factors remain to be investigated, for example personality, gender stereotypes, life or health events, the role of helpers and the perception of age-related deficits. Taking into account these specificities is essential in the advice that should be given in order to help older drivers stop driving.



Further readings...

i Marie Dit Asse L, (dirigée par B. Laumon et encadrée par S. Lafont). Régulation de la conduite automobile des hommes et des femmes âgées. Ifsttar, Bron-Lyon. Thèse de doctorat - Spécialité Épidémiologie et Santé Publique - Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, 31 mars 2015.
ii Marie Dit Asse L, Fabrigoule C, Helmer C, Laumon B, Lafont S. Automobile driving in seniors: Factors affecting driving restriction in men and women. Journal of American Geriactrics Society. 2014, 62(11): 2071-8.
iii Marie Dit Asse L, Fabrigoule C, Helmer C, Laumon B, Berr C, Rouaud O, Auriacombe S, Lafont S. Gender effect on driving cessation in pre-dementia and dementia: results of the 3C population-based study. International journal of Geriatric Psychatry. August 23 2016: 10.