Research Papers

Driving and aging in New Brunswick: Comparison of driving exposure, trip characteristics and personal characteristics of rural versus urban living older drivers

Version 1
Date added June 30, 2016
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Category 2016 CARSP XXVI Halifax
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 3B
Author/Auteur Valerie McLaughlin
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)

3B - McLaughlin


Background/Context: Mobility in old age is known to be related to quality of life. In New Brunswick, where approximately half of the population resides in rural areas, personal vehicles remain the most popular mode of transportation for people aged 65 and over. Research has shown that driver perceptions, such as driving comfort, are closely related to the self-regulation of driving behaviors. However, previous studies have suggested that circumstances, such as limited transportation alternatives, may determine driving exposure, even in situations where drivers aren’t comfortable. Furthermore, most studies examining driving practices of older adults took place in urban centers, therefore limiting the generalization of previous conclusions.

Aims/Objectives: The main goal of this study is to explore differences in exposure (where and when people drive) and perceptions (driving comfort and self perceived driving abilities) amongst rural and urban drivers aged 65 years and older in different areas of New-Brunswick (North-Western and South-Eastern regions of the province). Given the high proportion of French speaking residents in New-Brunswick, this study also carried out the translation and adaptation of validated tools to mesure driver perceptions.

Methods/Target Group: The preliminary phase of the study consisted of the French translation and validation of the Driving Comfort Scales. Developed by Myers and her colleagues and rooted in Bandura’s self-efficacy theory, these scales are used to assess driving comfort, self-perceived driving abilities, as well as self-reported driving exposure and avoidance in different situations.

The main phase of the study involves a two-week monitoring of driving patterns via a two-time odometer reading and trip log reports ( n= 150). Furthermore, a comprehensive battery of measurements is utilised, including the Driving Comfort Scales (Driving Comfort - Day; Driving Comfort - Night; Perceived Driving Ability; Situational Driving Frequency and Situational Driving Avoidance Scales), the Clock Draw Test as well as a driving history and habits questionnaire.

Results/Activities: The translated scales revealed good internal consistency results, The 13-item DCS-D and 16-item DCS-N revealed good internal consistency results, with Cronbach's alpha ratings of .92 to .94 and .97 respectively. Similar tendencies were observed for the 15-item PDA, the 14-item SDF and the 20-item SDA (.8 to .94). Test–retest reliability was poor for the SDA (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC]=.58), adequate for the DCS-D (ICC=.78), good for the SDF (ICC=.81) and excellent for the DCS-N (ICC=.92) and the PDA (ICC=.92). Driving comfort scores were significantly correlated with reported driving frequency, situational driving and perceived abilities (p<.005).

The main phase of the study is currently underway and results will be made available in the Winter of 2016.

Discussion/Deliverables: Most of the translated tools appear to have sound psychometric properties and seem promising for further research in similar settings.

Conclusions: Once completed, this study will contribute to the exploration of the incidence of environment on driving habits among older adults.

Valerie McLaughlin