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Increased age, health conditions, and driving confidence associated with older adults self-regulating their driving

Wong YI, Smith SS, Sullivan KA, Allan, AC.  Toward the multilevel older person's transportation and road safety model: A new perspective on the role of demographic, functional, and psychosocial factors. Journal of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. 2013; 71(1): 71-86.

Review question

How do demographic, functional and psychosocial factors, as well as the interactions between these factors, influence older adults’ ability to self-regulate their driving?


Self-regulation in the context of driving refers to adjusting or reducing driving as a response to changes in one’s health and functional abilities. For example, older drivers may restrict their driving to weather conditions when they feel safer, such as avoiding driving when it’s foggy.

There exists considerable variation in the literature as to what proportion of older adults self-regulate their driving abilities.

The link between how demographic, functional and psychosocial factors affect older adults’ driving self-regulation abilities is not well understood, and this review sought to clarify that.

How the review was done

A detailed search of six electronic databases for studies published from 1998 to 2013 was conducted. Studies focusing on drivers aged 65 and older who self-regulated their driving abilities were included in the review.

A total of 72 studies were identified in searches, and 29 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.

This study was supported by a research grant by the NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust and by the Queensland Injury Prevention Council in Australia.

What the researchers found

The authors combined the various factors identified in their literature search to develop a model that indicated which factors correlated most strongly with older adults’ driving self-regulation abilities. The review found that the proportion of older drivers who use self-regulation increases with age significantly.

As older drivers became more visually impaired, they were more likely to use self-regulation. Cognitive decline and “overall health” were also predictors of older adults’ likelihood to self-regulate their driving.

Psychosocial factors such as positive attitude and more driving confidence were correlated with a reduced use of self-regulation.


Ultimately, the review found that a variety of factors can predict older adults’ ability to self-regulate their driving behaviours. The most notable are age, degree of visual impairment, cognitive and overall health, attitude, and driving confidence.

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