In 2009, 3.25 million people aged 65 and over, or three-quarters of all seniors, had a driver's licence. Of that number, about 200,000 were aged 85 and over.
Self-reported survey data show that the majority of seniors, even those of more advanced ages, travel mostly by car.
There was a substantial gap between men and women with respect to having a driver's licence, particularly in those aged 85 and over. In 2009, 67% of men aged 85 and over living in private households had a driver's licence, compared with 26% of women.
In every province, a majority of men aged 85 and over had a driver's licence. The highest proportions were in New Brunswick (81%), and Manitoba and Saskatchewan (both 77%). The proportion of women aged 85 and over with a driver's licence varied from 14% in Quebec to 44% in Saskatchewan.
In 2009, more than two-thirds (68%) of seniors aged 65 to 74 reported that their main form of transportation was driving their own vehicle. Less than 6% used public transit and 3% walked or used a bicycle.
Among seniors aged 85 and over, 56% of men and 18% of women reported that their main form of transportation was driving their own vehicle.
Self-reported health status data were used to rank seniors according to various levels of functional capacity. The ranking showed that the vast majority of seniors who had a driver's licence had good or very good visual and auditory capacities and cognitive abilities.
For example, among seniors who were classified as having very good hearing capacity, 76%, or approximately 2.8 million, had a driver's licence.
However, of seniors who reported having the most serious hearing problems, 53%, or 26,400, had a driver's licence. Of those, 25,000 had driven a vehicle in the month prior to the survey.
More than 3 million seniors who had a driver's licence had very good or good visual capacity. Among seniors who did not see well enough to read the newspaper or to recognize a friend on the other side of the street, even with glasses, 19%, or 13,600, had a licence. About half of this group had driven a vehicle in the previous month.
In 2009, 28% of people aged 65 and over who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia, roughly 20,000 people, had a driver's licence. Of these seniors, 14,600 had driven in the month preceding the survey.
Seniors whose main form of transportation was driving their car were the most likely to have participated in a social activity during the week prior to the survey. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of this group did so, compared with 53% of those who were mainly passengers and did not have a licence and 46% of those who used accessible transit or taxis.