AAA Traffic Safety Team

As older adults reduce their driving, men report struggling more and have fewer resources to make important life decisions.

According to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, when compared to women, men older than 65 who have reduced driving in the last year report lower levels of social support  when it comes to advice, suggestions and information about issues they may be facing.  

“When it comes to older drivers, data from our study suggests there are perceived social support differences  between older male and female drivers,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  

Of the study’s nearly 3,000 participants, 1 in 5 older drivers reported reducing driving in the past year, with more women, 57%, than men, 43%, saying they had cut back on driving.  

“Men and women who have reduced driving report similar levels of care and emotional support from friends and family, but older male drivers find it harder to seek out advice and guidance,” Yang said.  

Previous AAA Foundation research found that many older adults reduce their driving, or selfregulate, to short, daytime trips or familiar locations because of health issues and it can lead to overall declines in life satisfaction.  

“Cutting back on  driving may threaten older drivers’ sense of independence and emotional wellbeing, and it limits their ability to maintain social ties, remain active and engaged, and manage healthcare,” said AAA  Traffic Safety Advocacy Project Manager Rhonda Shah. “Just like planning ahead for financial and healthcare needs in retirement, finding out more about local mobility choices – even before they are needed – can allow an older driver to plan for the day when it makes sense to limit or stop driving.”  

While self-regulation might seem like an excellent solution for older drivers to continue driving safely, some changes can create unintended consequences on the roadway. For example, using side streets to avoid the freeway also can increase an older drivers’ risk of a crash by increasing the distance traveled and his/her exposure on the road. 

AAA suggests older drivers and their families speak with their physicians in addition to exploring alternative forms of  transportation and recognize that these options might complement their driving.  Transportation alternatives vary from city to city, so AAA suggests the following: 

  • Carpooling – Sharing a ride with friends or neighbors is one way for older adults who limit driving.
  • Public Transportation – When available, city buses, light rail and subway systems are great ways to get around. By planning ahead, an older driver can build up a comfort level with public transportation services to prepare for a time when he or she may have to limit or stop driving.
  • Local Transportation Services – If the cost of a taxi or difficulty walking to a bus stop are obstacles to using public transit, an older adult could benefit from using low-cost, communitybased transportation services.
  • Ridesharing – If older adults have a smartphone, they can download a rideshare app to help with local transportation.  


Initiating a conversation about safe driving with an older driver, especially a  parent, is challenging for most people. While there is no simple or easy way to address the subject, AAA is here to help. Visit for some important tips.