Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Older automobile drivers -- Oregon, Old Aged Adults, Older automobile drivers -- Oregon -- Psychology


In a study of older adults and their travel patterns in Oregon, a statewide mail survey and telephone interviews were conducted with older drivers and older adults who had voluntarily chosen to stop driving. The purpose of the study was to determine: (1) the factors that influence driving cessation; (2) the physical and emotional barriers that delay driving cessation; (3) what opportunities exist for alternative transportation after driving cessation; (4) whether drivers make relocation decisions on the basis of driving cessation; (5) the warning signs that make a driver stop driving; and (6) whether a crisis situation generally forces a driver to stop driving. Completed mail surveys included those from 342 respondents who were current drivers (184 urban and 141 rural, plus 17 who did not report whether they lived in an urban or rural area) and 158 respondents who had voluntarily ceased driving (110 urban and 37 rural, plus 11 who did not report their urban/rural status). Telephone interviews were completed with 33 urban drivers, 36 rural drivers, 25 urban ceasers, and 6 rural ceasers. Changes in driving patterns, occurred gradually and late, mostly for respondents in their late 70’s or early 80’s. Among the results of the study was the finding that those most likely to have chosen to stop driving were older, depressed females in poorer health who were living in senior housing, using alternative transportation when available, making fewer trips, and seeing fewer limitations associated with using alternative transportation. Relocation to improve access to transportation alternatives was not seen by most respondents as a viable option. Because this study was a cross-sectional, not longitudinal, analysis, it was not possible to determine causality (e.g., to know whether people became depressed as a result of ceasing to drive or being depressed led them to cease driving, or to know whether poor health was the result or cause of driving cessation). Additional research is needed to establish causality, ideally following groups of individuals in particular age cohorts over time, including individuals forced to stop driving through the Medically-At-Risk Program. Such research would enable better understanding of the factors affecting driving decisions and the effects of those decisions, and help to signal possible strategies to implement to encourage the use of alternative transportation.


This is the final report, FHWA-OR-RD-08-08, and can be found online at:

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