Reaction to a Pandemic: Social Distancing and Driving Among Older Adults During COVID-19

Catherine M. Roe, Christopher B. Rosnick, Angela Colletta, Ganesh M. Babulal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has produced considerable morbidity and mortality worldwide, and older adults are at especially high risk for developing severe COVID-19. A cohort study of driving behavior from January 1, 2019, to April 25, 2019, and January 1, 2020, to April 25, 2020, was conducted. We hypothesized that older adults would reduce the number of days driving and number of trips/day they make after COVID-19 case acceleration. Data from 214 adults aged 66.5 to 92.8 years were used. Women comprised 47.6% of the sample and 15.4% were African American. Participants reduced the proportion of days driven during the pandemic (.673 vs.382 [p <.001]) compared with same period the year before (.695 vs.749). Trips/day showed a similar decline (p <.001). Participants also took shorter trips (p =.02), drove slower (p <.001), had fewer speeding incidents (p <.001), and had different trip destinations (p <.001). These results indicate that older adults reduce their driving behavior when faced with a pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-267
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Applied Gerontology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • COVID-19
  • driving
  • older adult
  • pandemic
  • social distancing


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