An Ethnic Perspective: Controversy of Senior’s Licensing Policy & Driving Programs in Ontario & British Columbia

TitleAn Ethnic Perspective: Controversy of Senior’s Licensing Policy & Driving Programs in Ontario & British Columbia
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsMaria Curro, Jinhua Zhao
Conference Name13th World Conference on Transport Research
PublisherWorld Conference on Transport Research Society
Conference LocationRio de Janeiro
Keywordsdriving cessation, ethnic difference, licensing policy

Driving cessation is a current and pressing issue facing many older drivers and their families, health care providers, vehicle licensing officials, transportation planners, and transit authorities. Driving cessation is well documented in current literature, however, such literature in general focuses upon community-dwelling Caucasian seniors, thereby does not address driving cessation amongst older ethnic drivers. This paper examines ethnic seniors’ perceptions around driving cessation and, in particular licensing policy and procedures, amongst older drivers from the Asian, South Asian, Caribbean/African and Caucasian communities in Toronto and Vancouver. We assess whether and how specifically perceptions expressed by ethnic seniors are different from their Caucasian senior counterparts and from the existing literature on the topic. It is essential to understand ethnic seniors’ perceptions around licensing policy and procedure in order to design cultural sensitive licensing policy that better takes into consideration the particular needs, challenges, and concerns of ethnic seniors, and in order to develop proper channels of communication between ethnic senior drivers and licensing authorities.

In-depth, one-on-one interviews (1 to 2 hours per interview) were conducted with 351 senior drivers from the South Asian (44), Asian (127), Caribbean/African (59), and Caucasian (121) communities. Seniors were contacted via community centers, senior’s recreational programs, and community liaisons. No snowball sampling was used. In total over 400 hours of interviews with seniors were conducted and documented over a period of six months (Aug 2011-Jan 2012). Interviews focused various topics covering seniors’ perception towards driving cessation and thematic analysis method was used to code the interview results and 14 dominant and reoccurring themes (including 43 sub-topics) emerged from the analysis. This paper focused on one of the themes examining seniors’ perception around current and potential licensing procedures for senior drivers.

Perceptions by older ethnic drivers around driving differ greatly from their Caucasian counterparts. Regarding licensing policy, Caribbean/African seniors find it discriminatory based on age and race whereby Asian and South Asian perceive licensing policy to be adequate and fair. Similar to Caribbean/African seniors, Caucasian seniors also find the agebased licensing procedures to be discriminatory. Asian and South Asian seniors further note that licensing policy should be designed to aid older drivers in making the decision to cease or continue driving.

While numerous studies document the perspective of older drivers in relations to driving cessation, this work is unique as it fills in a missing dimension regarding ethnic seniors’ perceptions around licensing policy and driving programs. Our findings recommend the design, implementation and communication of the licensing policy that are culturally sensitive and take into account the specific needs of differing ethnic seniors. There is a urgent need to begin a careful conversation around safe driving and driving cessation between driving seniors in various ethnic groups, health care professionals, licensing authorities and the society at large.