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The Travel Needs of Older People and What Happens When People Give-Up Driving

Transport, Travel and Later Life

ISBN: 978-1-78714-624-2, eISBN: 978-1-78714-623-5

Publication date: 1 December 2017


The population of older people in the ‘western world’ is increasing both in number, as well a percentage of the overall population. Changes in lifestyle as a result of increased longevity and better health and social care mean that older people are being mobile later on in their life than ever before. This qualitative study adopts an iterative and grounded theory approach to eliciting and generating the travel needs of older drivers through in-depth qualitative research with 26 older car drivers and 31 ex-car drivers. The findings suggest three levels of travel needs, these being; practical, psychosocial and aesthetic. At a primary level, practical needs encompass day-to-day, functional and utilitarian travel needs. The secondary level, psychosocial needs, include a sense of control and independence, enhancing status and defining (personal and social) roles. The tertiary level are aesthetic needs, such as travel for pleasure and for enjoyment. Psychosocial and aesthetic needs are less obvious to the participants themselves, but arguably are of equal importance as practical needs. However, less provision is made for older people in meeting these needs when they give-up driving. This has implications for design of travel services for older people: highlighting the importance to place emphasis not only on practical aspects of travel, but also on meeting psychosocial and aesthetic needs.




The work was completed through a grant from the Strategic Promotion of Ageing Research Capacity (SPARC) and the authors are very grateful for the help received from Professor Peter Lansley, Professor Richard Faragher, Verity Smith and Nicky Hewson.


Musselwhite, C. and Haddad, H. (2017), "The Travel Needs of Older People and What Happens When People Give-Up Driving", Musselwhite, C. (Ed.) Transport, Travel and Later Life (Transport and Sustainability, Vol. 10), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 93-115.



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