Driving Habits of Older Adults

A Look at Rural vs. Urban Drivers in Kansas


  • Shelley Bhattacharya University of Kansas Medical Center
  • Kristina Diaz




automobile driving, aged, rural population, urban population, accident prevention


BACKGROUND: The older adult population is the fastest growing cohort in Kansas, resulting in a growing number of older drivers. With age, changes in the ability to drive can compromise safety. Although it is challenging for health care providers to identify unsafe older drivers, it would be helpful to know what common driving habits they share. This exploratory study evaluated differences in the self-reported driving behaviors of older drivers in urban and rural settings of Kansas. METHODS: A one-page, 19-item survey was administered to patients over age 65 in the waiting rooms of two physician medical offices in urban Kansas City and rural Junction City, Kansas. RESULTS: A total of 105 surveys were completed. Rural drivers reported they were involved in approximately 9% more accidents than the urban drivers (p = 0.166). Rural drivers were more likely to drive in poor weather conditions, such as snow, ice, fog, and rain (p = 0.032). Eyeglasses were worn by 10% of the rural cohort compared to 37.8% of the urban cohort (p = 0.0044). More urban drivers reported they did not want to make changes to their current driving habits (71% vs 40%; p = 0.004). Urban drivers drove a longer distance to reach their destinations. Drivers from both environments avoided unfamiliar roads and did not use cell phones or global positioning system (GPS) devices while driving. CONCLUSIONS: By understanding the habits of older drivers, healthcare providers can tailor safe driving messages to support safe driving and enhance patient safety. Physicians could benefit from knowing that older rural drivers wore their glasses less frequently, trended towards having more accidents, and were more prone to drive during inclement weather. Urban Kansas drivers drove further to get to their destinations than their rural Kansas counterparts. Understanding these driving habits and tailoring their prevention messages accordingly may help health care providers in Kansas improve older patient’s safe driving behaviors.


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How to Cite

Bhattacharya, S., & Diaz, K. (2012). Driving Habits of Older Adults: A Look at Rural vs. Urban Drivers in Kansas. Kansas Journal of Medicine, 5(4), 134-141. https://doi.org/10.17161/kjm.v5i4.11423