The Role of Driving Comfort in Self-Regulation among a Large Cohort of Older Drivers
This research brief used data from the AAA Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) study to examine the role of driving comfort in the self-regulation of driving by older adults. Self-regulation is the process by which individuals modify or adjust their driving patterns by driving less, or intentionally avoiding situations considered challenging. The process of self-regulation is complex and a myriad of individual factors influence it, including age, sex, and perceived driving-related abilities (Molnar et al., 2018). However, one of the most consistent findings in the literature has been that drivers’ confidence, or referred to here as comfort, in specific driving situations are closely related to their likelihood to self-regulating their driving (Molnar et al., 2015).
The purpose of this study was to examine the direct effects of driving comfort on self-regulation and the role of driving comfort combined with age, sex, and perceived abilities in predicting four of the most common self-regulatory driving situations: driving at night, during rush hour traffic, on the freeway, and in unfamiliar areas. Results of this study indicate that all variables examined, both alone and in combination, generally predicted driving in the four situations. Most significantly, this study confirms that perceived driving comfort influences older adults’ driving behaviors in several driving situations often considered challenging and subject to self-regulation. Understanding driving comfort is important because, unlike fixed demographic characteristics, comfort is something that can potentially be influenced through education and training.