Background: Population ageing and stringent licensing policies will increase the number of older drivers who stop driving. Adverse health outcomes owing to driving cessation and their prevention are emerging concerns. Therefore, we longitudinally examined the impact of driving cessation and alternative transportation use after cessation on the risk of functional limitations in a cohort of community-dwelling people (65 years and older) in Japan.
Methods: Using cohort data of those who drove as of 2006/07, we compared the risk of functional limitations between 2,704 current drivers and 140 former drivers (who stopped driving by 2010). Of the former drivers, 77 did not use public transportation or bicycles after driving cessation (thus losing independent mobility). We calculated the hazard ratios (HRs) for the incidence of functional limitations with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) based on the Cox proportional hazards model with the covariates influencing the functional limitations.
Results: From 2010 through 2016, 645 people had functional limitations, which included 38, 82, and 119 per 1,000 person-years among current drivers, former drivers who used public transportation or bicycles, and former drivers who were only driven by others, respectively (HR 1.69; 95% CI, 1.15–2.49 and HR 2.16; 95% CI, 1.51–3.10, relative to current drivers).
Conclusion: Driving cessation is associated with an increased risk of functional limitations among older adults, but this risk might be alleviated if they are able to maintain independent mobility using public transportation or bicycles after driving cessation.