, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 975–992 | Cite as

Can rural older drivers meet their needs without a car? Stated adaptation responses from a GPS travel diary survey



Rural seniors are highly dependent on their automobile to meet their trip making needs, yet the effects of aging can make access to the vehicle difficult or impossible over time. The anticipated growth in the older person population, in concert with limited travel data available to support rural transportation planning in Canada suggests a disconnect between what rural older people may require for transportation and the availability of formal alternatives. Many will seek informal alternatives to driving, such as depending on friends and family, to meet their travel needs, but the degree is not well understood in the context of their actual vehicle usage and stated ability to adapt. This paper draws from a Global Positioning System (GPS)-based multi-day travel diary survey of a convenience sample of 60 rural older drivers (29 men, 31 women, average age of 69.6 years) from New Brunswick, Canada. Participants would rely on “friends and family” for 52% of all trips they undertook as driver in the survey, “walk or bike” for 14% of trips, and “not take the trip” in 34% of trips if they did not have access to a vehicle. The formal option of “Transit” was not selected as a viable alternative by any participant for any trip. “Medical trips”, “Shopping” and “Personal Errands” were the least discretionary of all trip types, yet the most difficult for participants to find alternate arrangements. This suggests the need to explore different models of service delivery, such as a community-supported, member-based rural shuttle service with volunteer and paid drivers that build on informal social networks and can provide service when friends and family are unavailable.


Rural Seniors Stated adaptation Travel survey Policy 



The authors acknowledge the financial support of Professor Albert and Ena Stevens and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council. The authors also want to thank the anonymous reviewers and Dr. David Hartgen for their insightful comments.


  1. Adams, K., Brace, I.: Introduction to market and social research, p. 57. Kogan Page Limited (2006) Google Scholar
  2. Blaxter, L., Hughes, C., Tight, M.: How to Research, 3rd edn., pp. 164–165. Open University Press (2006)Google Scholar
  3. Bachu, P., Dudala, S., Kothuri, M.: Prompted recall in global positioning systems survey—proof of concept study. Transp. Res. Rec. 1768, 106–113 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bricka, S., Bhat, C.: Comparative analysis of global positioning system-based and travel survey-based data. Transp. Res. Rec. 1972, 9–20 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burkhardt, J.: Economic impact of rural transit services. Transp. Res. Rec. 1666, 55–64 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burkhardt, J., McGavock, A.: Tomorrow’s older drivers. Who? How many? What impacts? Transp. Res. Rec. 1693, 62–70 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carp, F.: Significance of mobility for the well-being of the elderly. Transportation in an Aging Society, Vol. 2, Special Report 218, Trans. Res. Board, 1–20 (1988)Google Scholar
  8. Clark, A., Doherty, S.: Activity rescheduling strategies and decision processes in day-to-day life. Transp. Res. Rec. 2134, 143–152 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Coughlin, J., Tompkins, C.: Demographics, destiny, and anticipating the future of the transportation system. Public Works Manage. Policy 13(4), 284–287 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Coughlin, J.: Longevity, lifestyle, and anticipating the new demands of aging on the transportation system. Public Works Manage. Policy 13(4), 301–313 (2009)Google Scholar
  11. Cregger, M., Rogers, W.: Memory for activities for young, young-old, and old adults. Exp. Aging Res. 24(2), 195–202 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. D’Arcier, B., Andan, O., Raux, C.: Stated adaptation surveys and choice process: some methodological issues. Transportation 25, 169–185 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dobbs, B.: Aging baby boomers: a blessing or challenge for driver licensing authorities. Traffic Injury Prev. 9(4), 379–386 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Doherty, S., Lee-Gosselin, M., Burns, K., Andrey, J.: Household activity rescheduling in response to automobile reduction scenarios. Transp. Res. Rec. 1807, 174–182 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Doherty, S., Miller, E.: A computerized household activity scheduling survey. Transportation 27(1), 75–97 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Draijer, G., Kalfs, M., Perdok, J.: Global positioning system as data collection method for travel research. Transp. Res. Rec. 1719 (2000)Google Scholar
  17. Eck, R., Winn, G.: Older-driver perception of problems at unsignalized intersections on divided highways. Transp. Res. Rec. 1818, 70–77 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Foley, D., Heimovitz, H., Guralnik, J., Brock, D.: Driving life expectancy of persons aged 70 years and older in the United States. Am. J. Public Health 92(8) (2002)Google Scholar
  19. Goulias, K., Henson, K.: On altruists and egoists in activity participation and travel: who are they and do they live together? Transportation 33, 447–462 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Government of New Brunswick: Our communities, our future! (2010). Accessed 12 Oct 2010
  21. Hanson, T.: Where do rural seniors fit in traditional travel demand modelling? Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers. (student paper award) (2009a). Accessed: 17 June 2010
  22. Hanson, T.: Transportation alternatives for rural seniors in New Brunswick, Canada: Issues, policy implications and research needs. In: Proceedings of the Transp. Res. Board 88th Annual Meeting, on compact-disc, Washington DC (2009b)Google Scholar
  23. Harrison, A., Ragland, D.: Consequences of driving reduction or cessation for older adults. Transp. Res. Rec. 1843, 96–104 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hildebrand, E., Gordon, M., Hanson, T.: Understanding the travel behaviour of the rural elderly. In: Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Canadian Transportation Research Forum: Revolutions in Transportation, ISSN #1183-2770, 236–252 (2004)Google Scholar
  25. Hildebrand, E., Myrick, B., Creed, T.: The rural elderly: driving patterns and accident involvement. In: Proceedings of the 2000 Canadian Transportation Research Forum Annual Conference (2000)Google Scholar
  26. Hildebrand, E., Myrick, B.: Collision experience and mobility concerns of the rural elderly. In: Proceedings of the Canadian Multidisciplinary Road Safety Conference XII (2001)Google Scholar
  27. Hildebrand, E.: An activity-based travel needs model for the elderly. PhD Dissertation. University of Waterloo, ON, Canada (1998)Google Scholar
  28. Hough, J.: Realized travel demand and relative desired mobility of elderly women. Rural and Small Urban North Dakota. Small Urban & Rural Transit Center, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute, North Dakota State University (2007)Google Scholar
  29. Institute of Transportation Engineers: Transportation planning handbook, 2nd edn., p. 163 (1999) Google Scholar
  30. Jang, R., Man-Son-Hing, M., Molnar, F., Hogan, D., Marshall, S., Auger, J., Graham, I., Korner-Bitensky, N., Tomlinson, G., Kowgier, M., Naglie, G.: Family physicians’ attitudes and practices regarding assessments of medical fitness to drive in older persons. J. Gen. Intern. Med. 22(4), 531–543 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kihl, M.: Marketing rural transit among senior populations. Transp. Res. Rec. 1338, 60–64 (1992)Google Scholar
  32. Kostyniuk, L., Shope, J.: Driving and alternatives: older drivers in Michigan. J. Saf. Res. 34(4), 407–414 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lee-Gosselin, M.: Conference on household travel surveys: new concepts and research needs. In: Conference Proceedings 10, Transp. Res. Board, 115–133 (1995)Google Scholar
  34. Mollenkopf, H., Marcellini, F., Ruoila, I., Széman, Z., Tacken, M., Wahl, H.: Social and behavioural science perspectives on out-of-home mobility in later life: findings from the European project MOBILATE. Eur. J. Ageing 1, 45–53 (2004) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Murakami, E., Wagner, D., Neumeister, D.: Using global positioning systems and personal digital assistants for personal travel surveys in the United States—Session Paper in TRB Transportation Research Circular E-C008: Transport Surveys: Raising the Standard (1997)Google Scholar
  36. Myrick, B.: The accident experience of the rural elderly. MScE Thesis #6655. Department of Civil Engineering, University of New Brunswick (2001)Google Scholar
  37. Neugarten, B.: The future of the young-old. Gerontologist 15, 4–9 (1975)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Painter, K., Jessup, E., Hill Gossard, M., Casavant, K.: Demand forecasting for rural transit models applied to Washington state. Transp. Res. Rec. 1997, 35–40 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Roorda, M., Andre, B.: Stated adaptation survey of activity rescheduling empirical and preliminary model results. Transp. Res. Rec. 2021, 45–54 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rosenbloom, S.: Driving cessation among older people. Transp. Res. Rec. 1779, 93–99 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rosenbloom, S., Morris, J.: Travel patterns of older Australians in an international context. Transp. Res. Rec. 1617, 189–193 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rosenbloom, S.: Differences in perceptions of driving skills: older drivers and adult children of older drivers in the United Kingdom. Transp. Res. Rec. 2009, 15–22 (2007) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Siren, A.: Older women’s mobility and transportation issues. Academic dissertation. University of Helsinki Department of Psychology, Research Reports No. 30 (2005)Google Scholar
  44. Statistics Canada: Annual Demographic Statistics. Catalogue no. 91-213-XIB (2005)Google Scholar
  45. Statistics Canada: A portrait of seniors in Canada. Catalogue no. 89-519-XIE (2006)Google Scholar
  46. Statistics Canada: 2006 Census Dictionary. (2007a). Accessed 31 July 2007
  47. Statistics Canada: Canadian Vehicle Survey Quarter 4, 2006. Catalogue no. 53F0004XIE (2007b)Google Scholar
  48. Statistics Canada: Population counts, for Canada, provinces and territories, census divisions by urban population size groups and rural, 2006 Census—100% data (table). Population and Dwelling Count Highlight Tables. 2006 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 97-550-XWE2006002. Ottawa (2007c)Google Scholar
  49. Statistics Canada: Analysis series from the 2001 census. Available from: (2010). Accessed 13 Oct 2010
  50. Stopher, P.: A review of separate and joint strategies for the use of data revealed and stated choices. Transportation 25, 187–205 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Taylor, B., Tripodes, S.: The effects of driving cessation on the elderly with dementia and their caregivers. Accid. Anal. Prev. 33, 519–528 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. TRB: Measuring personal travel and goods movement: a review of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ Surveys. Special Report 277, Trans. Res. Board, 18–19 (2003)Google Scholar
  53. TRB: Transportation in an Aging Society, Vol. 1, Special Report 218, Transp. Res. Board 62 (1988)Google Scholar
  54. U.S. Census Bureau: Age data of the United States. (2008). Accessed 6 Oct 2010
  55. Vardeman, S.: Statistics for engineering problem solving. PWS Publishing (1994)Google Scholar
  56. Wolf, J., Guensler, R., Bachman, W.: Elimination of the travel diary. Transp. Res. Rec. 1768, 125–134 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada

Personalised recommendations