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Research Project Description

Center Identification Number: 473-09

Project Title: Best Practices in Voluntary Driving Cessation Programs for Seniors

Principal Investigator: 
Jennifer Hardin, Research Associate

Center for Urban Transportation Research
University of South Florida
Tampa, Florida

External Project Contact: TD Commission

I. Project Objectives

To identify successful components, as well as challenges faced by voluntary driving cessation programs targeting seniors.  To offer recommendations related to the existing and future role of transit and paratransit in increasing the overall effectiveness of such programs, increasing participation in programs, facilitating implementation of programs, and generating support from targeted communities.  Finally, to develop overall recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness and attractiveness of voluntary driving cessation programs targeting seniors.

II. Project Abstract

As baby boomers move into retirement age, the United States is realizing a growing majority of drivers over the age of 65.  In response to this phenomenon, many communities and states have proposed voluntary elder driver cessation programs that encourage elder drivers to give up their drivers' licenses or cease driving their personal automobiles in lieu of available mobility alternatives.  Typically, these programs include testing related to reaction time and the driver decision-making processes, information about existing transportation alternatives available to ensure continued mobility and independence, and assistance in accessing these resources.  The availability of public transportation usually plays a significant role in these programs by providing viable alternatives to the personal automobile that allow seniors to maintain their independence without the necessity of driving.  The purpose of this project is to identify the voluntary driving cessation programs targeting seniors that are currently in place throughout the United States, as well as similar international programs.  The project will examine the components of these programs, with special consideration given to the availability and role of transit and paratransit in the potential success of driving cessation programs.  In addition, the research will seek to identify obstacles that these programs have faced during all phases of development and provide an evaluation of the effectiveness of the programs.  The results of the proposed research will be compiled in a report that documents the state-of-the-art of voluntary elder driving cessation programs.  Recommendations will be offered related to the future role of transit and paratransit in the success of these programs, as well as overall recommendations designed to increase the effectiveness and attractiveness of voluntary driving cessation programs that target seniors.

III. Task Descriptions

This project will include seven distinct tasks designed to achieve the objectives listed above.  Each task is described below.

Task 1: Review of the Literature pertaining to Senior Driving Issues

The investigators will review and summarize previous studies related to senior driving issues.  A vast amount of research has been dedicated to exploring how driving function is (or is not) affected by age, as well as the perceptions and fears held by seniors in relation to driving and/or ceasing to drive.  The results of this task will inform the development of a topic guide for the conduct of focus groups with seniors.  The results of these studies will be summarized, along with the results of Task 2 (described below), in Technical Memorandum 1.

Task 2: Conduct Focus Groups with Seniors

Focus groups will be conducted with seniors to explore the range of perceptions and concerns that may exist related to driving and making the decision to cease driving.  The focus groups will identify the range of concerns existing within this population related to driving versus relying on alternative forms of transportation in order to maintain their independence and mobility.  This task will also contribute to the conceptual framework that will provide direction for the project and inform the surveys and interviews conducted in the project (described below).

Deliverable: Technical Memorandum 1 - Literature Review and Focus Group Results

Task 3: Identify Voluntary Elder Driving Cessation Programs

This task will identify driving cessation programs in the United States and internationally that target seniors.  A myriad of methods will be employed to identify these programs, including Internet searches, literature searches, industry contacts, and referrals.  Contact information and available promotional material will be collected from the programs and compiled in a database that will serve as an inventory of senior driving cessation programs.  Upon completion of the study, the database will contain the following types of information related to the specific components of each program, location and service area of each program, participants and eligibility information, information on funding and costs associated with each program, incentives for participation, and alternative transportation resources available to participants.

Task 4: Develop and Administer Questionnaire to Voluntary Senior Driving Cessation Programs

Based on the findings from Task 3, the investigators will develop and administer a questionnaire survey instrument to determine the specific components of and issues faced by the senior driving cessation programs.  Specific topics that will be addressed include components of program, available testing and training, funding, sponsorship, costs to participants, incentives offered for participant and/or the surrender of driving privileges, alternative transportation options, etc.  All identified programs will be included in the survey.

Task 5: Conduct In-Person or Telephone Interviews with Driving Cessation Programs

Following the completion and analysis of Task 4, in-depth, semi-structured interviews will be conducted with representatives from the senior driving cessation programs.  The purpose of the interviews will be to collect more detailed information related to the obstacles encountered and/or overcome by the programs, political considerations, marketing to seniors, participant fears and/or concerns, transportation options available to participants, the role of public transportation (transit and paratransit) and its relationship to the programs, and programmatic successes and challenges.  Interviews will be conducted by telephone or in person, depending on location and budget constrains.

Task 6: Conduct Survey of Transportation Providers

This task consists of the development and conduct of surveys with transportation providers operating in areas with driving cessation programs that target seniors, including public transit and paratransit properties.  The purpose of the survey will be to collect information related to the nature of any relationship between the driving cessation programs and available transportation alternatives to the personal automobile.  In addition, personnel will be queried regarding customer characteristics, agency objectives and methods related to meeting the mobility needs of seniors, marketing methods targeting seniors, and any transit training that is offered to specific market segments.

Deliverable: Technical Memorandum 2 - Synthesis of Survey and Interview Results: Voluntary Driving Cessation Programs for Seniors and the Role of Public Transit

Task 7: Develop Best Practices Report

The final task of the research will synthesize the results of all previous tasks in order to develop a report on the Best Practices in Voluntary Driving Cessation Programs for Seniors.  The report will highlight programs that have been successful, as well as document challenges facing these types of programs.  The report will seek to isolate specific characteristics or conditions that contribute to success, as well as those that present challenges to overall effectiveness and success.  In addition, the report will offer recommendations related to the existing and future role of transit and paratransit in increasing the overall effectiveness of such programs.  Finally, overall recommendations to enhance the effectiveness and attractiveness of voluntary elder driver cessation programs will be offered.

IV.  Student Involvement

Graduate students will be used to assist in the review of pertinent literature, identification of senior driving cessation programs, database development, preparation and analysis of qualitative data collection steps, conduct of the surveys of transit agencies, and preparation of materials for the final report.

V. Relationship to Other Research Projects

This project will draw on the experience and knowledge gained through the vast research that has been conducted related to aging drivers.  In addition, a number of projects are currently underway at CUTR as part of the NCTR research program that are examining operational and perceptual issues and barriers related to transit use.

VI. Technology Transfer Activities

The results of this analysis will be provided to the FDOT through a series of technical memoranda and a final report, as outlined above.  Copies of the final report will be provided to the Research Office, the State Public Transportation Administrator, the Manager of the Transit Office, the Commission for the Transportation Disadvantaged and the transit systems that participated in the analyses.  Information will also be made available thought the CUTR website and through presentations at local and national conferences.

VII. Potential Benefits of the Project 

The benefits of the project include the dissemination of information related to the state of the art in senior driving cessation programs in the United States and abroad.  In addition, this research will be of benefit to transit agencies in their efforts to meet the mobility needs of seniors.  Finally, the research will assist agencies, communities, and states that are interested in the development and implementation of similar programs.

VIII. TRB Keywords

Aging drivers, public transportation, driving cessation, alternative transportation, transit, paratransit


National Center for Transit Research at the Center For Urban Transportation Research University of South Florida 4202 E. Fowler Ave., CUT100 Tampa, FL 33620-5375 (813) 974-3120 (813) 974-5168 Comments: