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Driving avoidance by older adults : is it always self-regulation?

In: Accident analysis and prevention. Vol. 57 (Aug. 2013), p. 96-104.

Authors: Lisa J. Molnar, David W. Eby, Dr. Judith Charlton, J. Langford, S. Koppel, Shawn Marshall, Malcolm Man-Son-Hing.

Self-regulation shows promise as a means by which older adults can continue to drive at some level without having to stop altogether. Self-regulation is generally described as the process of modifying or adjusting one's driving patterns by driving less or intentionally avoiding driving situations considered to be challenging, typically in response to an awareness that driving skills have declined. However, most studies asking older adults whether they avoid certain driving situations or have reduced the amount of driving they do under certain circumstances have not delved deeper into the motivations for such avoidance or driving reduction. There are many reasons for modifying driving that have nothing to do with self-regulation, such as no longer needing to take trips at certain times of day because of changes in preferences or lifestyles. The purpose of this study was to examine self-regulatory practices among older adults at multiple levels of driver performance and decision making, taking into account the specific motivations for avoiding particular driving situations or engaging in other driving practices. Study participants completed a computer-based questionnaire on driving self-regulation. Results suggest that self-regulation is a complex process that cannot be defined simply by the reported driving modifications made by drivers. Understanding the motivations for these behaviors is necessary and the study showed that they are varied and differ considerably across driving situations. Reasons for driving avoidance or other practices were often more closely related to lifestyle or preferences than to self-regulation. Based on these findings, three distinct groups were identified with regard to whether and for what reasons participants modified their driving.

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