Deciding When to Stop Driving
Your parent has driven a car safely for 40, maybe 50, years. He/she prides him/herself on their driving skill and values the independence it affords. But as the birthdays pile on, your concern for their safety behind the wheel grows. There hasn’t been an accident yet, but you have reason to suspect that their eyes aren’t what they used to be.
When is the Right Time to have that Conversation?
According to The Hartford, the best answer is now, before their driving skills begin to noticeably decline – when safety becomes a life-or-death issue and emotions are running high. So yes, the sooner you have that talk, the better, but don’t broach the subject unprepared.
Here are some questions you’ll need to think about first:
Who should do the talking?
A Hartford/MIT survey found that 50% of married drivers prefer to hear about driving concerns from their spouses. Doctors are a close second, followed by adult children. Most older drivers living alone prefer to hear first from their doctors, followed by adult children, close friends, or other supportive helpers. Preference for adult children breaking the ice increases when drivers are over 70.
What should I know before initiating the conversation?
Know the warning signs of potential driving problems. Is your relative easily distracted while driving? Has parking become erratic? Is the driver less confident or do they fail to notice traffic activity to the right or left? Are there signs of scraping on the car, fence, or mailbox? These are just a few of the signs. Try to observe the driver over time to see if troublesome patterns emerge.