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Naturalistic Study of Winter Driving Practices by Older Men and Women: Examination of Weather, Road Conditions, Trip Purposes, and Comfort*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2011

Anita M. Myers*
Department of Health Studies and Gerontology, University of Waterloo
Aileen Trang
Department of Health Studies and Gerontology, University of Waterloo
Alexander M. Crizzle
Department of Health Studies and Gerontology, University of Waterloo
Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to / La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à: Anita M. Myers, Ph.D., Department of Health Studies and Gerontology, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada (


Most studies on seniors’ driving practices are based on self-reports; none have objectively examined winter driving patterns. We used electronic devices, together with trip logs, digital maps, and weather archives, to examine the driving patterns of seniors aged 65 to 91 over two consecutive weeks between November 2008 and March 2009. Night driving differed by month showing the importance of seasonal factors, particularly the amount of daylight. Although 69 per cent of the sample drove on days with adverse conditions, seniors were significantly more likely to make trips for social/entertainment purposes on days with good weather, and out-of-town trips on days with good road conditions. Driving comfort scores, particularly for night driving, were significantly related to multiple indicators of exposure and patterns, including radius from home. Compared to men, women had significantly lower driving comfort scores and were less likely to drive on days with adverse weather and road conditions.


La plupart des études sur les pratiques de conduite des aînés sont basées sur des données d’autoévaluation ; aucune n’a examiné objectivement leurs habitudes de conduite hivernale. Nous avons utilisé des appareils électroniques associés à des journaux de voyages, des cartes numériques et des archives météorologiques, afin d’examinerétudier les modes de conduite des personnes âgées de 65 à 91 sur deux semaines consécutives entre novembre 2008 et mars 2009. La conduite de nuit différait selon le mois, montrant l’importance des facteurs saisonniers, en particulier la quantité de lumière du jour. Bien que 69 pour cent de notre échantillon ait conduit les jours de mauvais temps, les aînés ont montré être significativement plus susceptibles de faire des voyages à des fins sociales ou de divertissement les jours de beau temps, et ils ont entrepris des voyages plus longs les jours offrant de bonnes conditions routières. Les scores de confort de conduite, notamment pour la conduite de nuit, étaient liés de manière significative aux indicateurs multiples de l’exposition et des habitudes, y compris au rayon autour du domicile. Comparativement aux hommes, les femmes ont obtenu des scores de conduite significativement plus bas, et ont été moins susceptibles de conduire quand les conditions metéorologiques et routières étaient défavorables.

Copyright © Canadian Association on Gerontology 2011

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Student support for Trang and Crizzle was provided by the Canadian Driving Research Initiative for Vehicular Safety in the Elderly (Candrive) and the Auto21 Network of Centres of Excellence. We also thank Robin Blanchard, Michelle Porter, and Brenda Vrkljan, as well as all the study participants.


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