Stages of driving behaviour change within the Transtheoretical Model (TM)




Kowalski, Kristina Anne

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The older adult population and the number of older adults who rely primarily on driving as their means of transportation in later life are increasing. Older adults experience changes due to aging and age-related diseases that may put them at increased risk of crashes and other unsafe driving behaviours. Considerable evidence has demonstrated that some older adults compensate for their declining abilities by voluntarily restricting their own driving to limit exposure to risky driving situations or by stopping driving altogether. Since mobility is critical for maintaining the independence and quality of life of the older adult, it is important to examine factors that influence driving behaviours of older adults and to promote their safe driving for as long as possible. It has been suggested that driving cessation might occur in discrete stages of driving restriction culminating in driving cessation. Yet, the application of TM to older driver behaviour has not been explored in detail. Thus, the purpose of this research was to explore older adults’ perceptions and experiences of the process of older driver behaviour change within the TM framework. Drivers and former drivers (both men and women) aged 71-94 years of age completed a health and demographic questionnaire and participated in either a digitally recorded semi-structured individual interview or a group discussion. Participants were asked a series of pre-determined questions and probes tailored for either current or former drivers to examine this process. The recordings were transcribed and reviewed for themes related to driving behaviour change. The participants exhibited a wide variety of perceptions and experiences related to the process of driving behaviour change in aging. Their driving behaviour in aging could be divided into 2 general classes: those who changed their driving with age and those who did not. The spectrum of experiences ranged from those who gradually imposed restrictions on their driving with age (“the gradual restrictors”) or made plans for stopping (“the preparers”) to those who always employed driving restrictions throughout their driving history (“the consistent”) or those who made no or only minor changes to their driving behaviour with age (“the non-changers”). Some preliminary support for TM within the driving context was found and recommendations for extensions to the TM model were suggested. Further exploration of driving behaviour change within the TM framework is warranted. The findings from this study may be appropriate for use in designing educational strategies and interventions aimed at helping older adults remain on the road safely longer or stop driving, if needed.



Aging, Driving behaviour change, Transtheoretical Model, Driving restriction, Driving cessation