Demographic Differences in Use of Alternate Transportation Among Older Drivers: AAA LongROAD Study
This research brief examines the types and number of alternate sources of transportation used by healthy, older drivers.
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This research brief examines the types and number of alternate sources of transportation used by healthy, older drivers (Li et al., 2017). Although many older adults still prefer driving, mobility is not limited to owning and operating a car. There are a variety of transportation options, including taxis, buses and ride-sharing companies (Bailey, 2004; Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2006). This study explores the use of alternate sources of transportation among older drivers, including the type and the number of sources used. This is the first step in determining if using multiple types of transportation may offer more flexibility in getting around and provide reliable transport options (Adler & Rottunda, 2006; Kostyniuk & Shope, 2003).
This study found most old drivers (89%) engaged in at least one nondriving form of motorized transportation — most commonly, having ridden as a passenger with a friend or family member (87%). Fifty-seven percent reported having used only one alternate source of transport. Women are more likely than men are to ride as a passenger (90% vs. 83%), whereas men were more likely to ride a train (19% vs 16%) or use a taxi or ride-sharing service (18% vs. 15%).
- 89% of participants reported using at least one alternate source of transportation in the past three months
- 87% of participants reported riding as a passenger with a friend or family member as an alternate source of transportation
- 17% of participants used a train/subway, 16% used a taxi/ride-sharing service, 12% reported using a public bus and only 8% biked or walked
This study uses baseline data from the AAA Foundation’s Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) study (Li et al., 2017). LongROAD is a multisite (California, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan and New York) prospective cohort study designed to collect data on the medical, behavioral, environmental, technological and vehicular factors influencing driving safety in older adults. Examining the use of alternate sources of transportation beyond driving is also a focus. Participants were ages 65-79 years old, possessed valid driver’s licenses, drove at least once per week on average and had no significant cognitive impairment.
For this study, we examined variation among the use of alternate transportation sources by demographic characteristics. Participants reported using in the past three months alternate transportation sources, such as buses, trains or subways; special community transportation; taxis; and getting a ride from friends, family or a volunteer driver. Participants had the option of specifying additional sources of transportation not listed in the response set. These included walking, biking and using ride-sharing services (e.g., Uber or Lyft). For this analysis, the use of taxi, Uber and Lyft were combined into one category. Drivers were placed into four groups based on the number of alternate sources of transportation they reported having used in the past three months: no source, one source, two sources, and three or more sources.
This brief describes the types and number of alternate sources of transportation used in the past three months for the full sample and by demographic factors, including age, sex, race, relationship status, employment status and annual household income.
The current study, consistent with existing literature, found that there are demographic differences in types and numbers of alternate sources of transportation used by drivers ages 65-79 years (Shen et al., 2017). The most common source of alternate transportation reported by older drivers was riding as a passenger with a friend or family member; this finding is consistent with previous studies (Shen et al., 2017). Women and people in relationships were more likely than men or single people to report having ridden as a passenger. Men were more likely than women to report the use of the train/subway or taxi/rideshare. Based on these results, locales aiming to promote the use of public transport should consider undertaking efforts to increase older adults’ familiarity with trains, subways and buses.
For those older adults who need to reduce their driving, the availability of multiple transportation sources offers a way to maintain an active lifestyle, which is essential for maximum health. Another consideration is the potential stigma of certain sources of public transportation (Musselwhite, 2010). Communities and transportation experts may want to consider how to improve access and reduce stigma to alternate sources of transportation while older adults are still actively driving in order to reduce the impact that driving cessation has on poor health, social isolation and overall quality of life. The ability to disaggregate sources of transportation (e.g., ride-sharing, public transportation and private/taxi) and opinions about those sources is the next step to explore alternate sources of transportation among older drivers.
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