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Explaining gender differences in self-regulated driving: what roles do health limitations and driving alternatives play?

  • ANNE E. BARRETT (a1), CLAYTON GUMBER (a1) and RACHEL DOUGLAS (a1)
Abstract

One of the strongest and most consistent predictors of self-regulated driving is gender, with women more likely than men to limit their driving in situations like bad weather or at night. However, studies have focused more on documenting these gender patterns than on explaining the processes underlying them, which may vary in their implications for transportation, health and ageing policy. Our study addresses this issue by examining two potential explanations for women's greater likelihood of self-regulated driving: their greater health limitations and use of driving alternatives. Using a nationally representative sample of older Americans (2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study, N = 4,842), we conducted logistic regressions predicting driving under four limitations: alone, at night, in rain or other bad weather and on highways. Our results provide stronger support for the driving alternatives explanation, especially women's greater reliance on rides from family and friends. Health limitations do contribute to explaining one of the self-regulated driving behaviours – avoiding driving alone. Our findings suggest that willingness to use driving alternatives is part of transitioning from driving. However, the relatively low use of all the alternatives we examined points to the importance of better understanding older adults’ transportation needs and preferences, including their gendered dimensions.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Anne E. Barrett, Department of Sociology, Pepper Institute on Aging and Public Policy, 636 W. Call St., Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1121, USA E-mail: abarrett@fsu.edu
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