Dangerous Senior Drivers

What to Do About a Dangerous Older Driver
stoplight

What should you do if you've monitored your parent's or other aging family members' driving and are persuaded that they pose a risk -- but they refuse to stop driving? Many older adults elect to stop driving proactively if they suspect they're developing driving problems or someone mentions the issue. Others stubbornly insist that their driving is as good as it ever was and tune out anyone who tells them differently. If you have a family member who refuses to acknowledge the problem, try these strategies:

Talk to Family Friends

If you've had no luck persuading your parent or other family members to give up the car, see if family friends can help. Research shows that older drivers are more likely to listen to those outside the family when it comes to their driving. Be discreet, and consider their feelings. Talk to only their closest friends: people they trust and whom you know have their best wishes at heart. Find out if these friends share your concerns. If they do, they may be willing to talk to your parent or other family members themselves.

Talk to Your Loved One's Doctor

Let your parent's (or other family members') primary care physician know that you think he should stop driving but refuses to do so. Under privacy laws, a physician must have a patient's permission to share personal health information, so unless you have medical power of attorney, the physician won't be able to discuss his health status with you. But you can still write or telephone the physician and inform her that you believe your parent should stop driving and why. The physicians can examine him with this information in mind, and if she agrees with your assessment, may be willing to advise your parent to stop driving. (A number of states now require physicians to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles if a patient is diagnosed with Alzheimer's or another health condition that could affect driving safety.) If a family member's vision is compromised, you can also contact his eye doctor.

File a Report With the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

If it doesn't work to talk to family friends or physicians, or if these steps don't yield results, you can file an unsafe driver report with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. (Police officers and physicians can also file unsafe driver reports.) Contact your state's DMV to find out the exact procedure, as rules vary from state to state. DMVs generally take such reports seriously, although many are too understaffed to respond quickly. Your letter should include your reasons for making the complaint, as well as information about how authorities can contact your parent or other family members. Be as specific as you can when outlining your reasons for believing that someone poses a driving risk.

After receiving a complaint, the state agency will contact the person and request a medical evaluation. The agency might also require a driving test. Depending on the findings of these evaluations, they could either restrict his license (some elderly people cannot drive on the highway or at night, for example) or revoke the license altogether.

Take More Serious Steps

If the person you're concerned about has a cognitive problem and can't understand the danger he poses to himself and others, you may have to take more extreme measures. Some adult children have resorted to having their parents' car disabled or found ways to make it disappear; others have hidden the car keys -- and have never found them. In The Driving Dilemma, Elizabeth Dugan cautions adult children to use such "extralegal steps" only in cases where there's a clear danger and the driver is incapable of understanding the risk.


3 months ago, said...

My grandfather had his driving privileges revoked due to poor eye sight. We knew there was a problem but when getting gas one time he accidentally got into the wrong vehicle to try and start it. He has always been very independent. When we visit he will allow us to drive him around but my grandmother will tell us that he is still driving. What resources are there for people in situations like this?


3 months ago, said...

My Father is 75 years old. My Father have mental problems and disability. My Father and I was driving one day. My Father drove on the red light and we almost got heat by another car. My Father was driving the car at that time. I try to ask my Father to stop driving but he won't listen to me. I love my Father very much and I don't want him to get heart. What should I do? Please help?


4 months ago, said...

Widdim. Trying to explain to a person wth dementia is like trying to toilet train a 3 month old baby. Think worst case scenario. If you don't take the car away AND TAKE AWAY the ability for her to purchase another, you could be considered liable for her actions by being aware of what she is doing. Take her into the DMV, get her an ID card instead of a DL, take away the DL, and take away the car. She cannot purchase a car without a DL. Let her insurance agent know she can no longer drive. If she gets angry, with the dementia, it won't be for long. If you're worried about what people think, ask them if they want her driving on their kid or grandkids street. Are you sure she is safe in her home? It may be time for in home care, or for an assisted living 'vacation'. Chances are, she's not eating properly or taking medications properly.


4 months ago, said...

My mother in law has had her drivers license suspended, has I insurance and lives in Canada, she is 95 and lives alone and has dementia. We have disabled her vehicle but she had a mechanic fix it. The police have.been contacted and spoke to her but can only do something if she is caught driving. We need help with this. My husband doesn't want to take car away feels she will just buy another, any ideas? I am afraid she could kill someone pls help! Thanks.


4 months ago, said...

What concerns me if lay person can initiate a medical recall of one's driver license.


9 months ago, said...

My 75-year-old mother was adamant that she keep driving, she didn't want to be a burden to anyone by asking (we would be fine; its in her head though) so I suggested she take a driving course to ensure the safety of others around her, she did it. I took her to 911drivingschool.com/drivers-education-adults and it was the best thing ever, taught by patient police officers. maybe it should be a law that everyone at a certain age retake the course.?


almost 2 years ago, said...

I have an 80-yr.-old friend who lives in California. Her license has been revoked because she is a terrible and dangerous driver. She continues to drive. Can anything be done to get her to stop?


over 2 years ago, said...

Elderly driveers can be pretty dangerous


about 3 years ago, said...

I am a productive, very healthy senior who tutors math students, plays violin in a wonderful symphony orchestra and have a pristine d5riving record of 68 years~~~ all came to a screeching halt when the DMV perpetrated a horrible scam and no explanation!!!!!


over 3 years ago, said...

Sharonsue38 - what a caring person you are! There are ways to report the person to the DMV, who will then bring them in for specialized testing. I live in CA, so I am most familiar with their system - had to use it for both my parents to get them to lose their driving privileges. Go to your state's website for DMV (dmv.ca.gov for CA), and search on driver safety forms. In CA, it's called 'Request for Driver Reexamination'. Fill it out, sign it (unsigned forms are ignored), then they should get on it pretty quickly. My Father's was revoked without needing to come in for testing. My Mother came in for testing, and because of her dementia, she failed. Dad said it was age discrimination, Mom didn't really understand. Once the license is revoked, if you see your neighbor take his car out, call the police and they'll pull him over and arrange to take the car away from him. The DMV will work to keep your identity confidential, but if the records are subpoena'ed, they will have to reveal whom it was that turned the person in. Chances are your neighbor is too far gone to go to that effort. Thank you for thinking of public safety!


over 3 years ago, said...

he has a lot of medical problems. he falls trying to get in car when he does get he runs into all kinds of things.he pulls out in front of things I will gladly take him any place he needs to go please tell me what to do it is getting dangerios for him to drive .


over 3 years ago, said...

I am so worried about my neighbor. he hits things with car. he is a very nice guy but his living condition is terrible and he has no family to help


over 3 years ago, said...

I live right across from ernest long. my other neighbor has went i9n to apt and found him on floor for more than 4hrs. I have found him half under his car from falling on concrete getting trying to get him car I have called 911 and they put him in rehab.when he comes home he gets back into car to drive. when jhe does drive he runs into things backs into things. he also pulls out in front of drivers.i am so afraid he is going to kill himself or someone else. he has no family to help him Please help us to help him. I will gladly take him where he needs tgo go


over 4 years ago, said...

I always think it's a good idea to create a contract. http://blog.encompassomaha.com/a-contract-to-stop-your-elderly-parent-from-driving/


over 4 years ago, said...

There is no doubt there are some 'seniors' driving that need to evaluated for their driving skills. A periodic check up would be helpful. However, there are some 'juniors' that should also be evaluated when they are carelessly mishandling their responsibilities behind the wheel of their automobile. What do you recommend for them?


over 4 years ago, said...

We took my dad and aunt to the doctor for a check up and there was clearly something was wrong with both of them my aunt has vascular dementia and my dad had 3and4levels of dementia so we took their medical papers to DMV they were sent medical papers from DMV but they didn't send them back so both of there license were revoke and then they recieve letters from the insurance company and that was drop as well so we took the car away .


over 4 years ago, said...

my soon to be 88 yr. young aunt, has totaled Three autos within a 7 month period-----of course it is not her fault and her attitude is-----if it is my timr to go--it's my time to go! absolutely no consideration for others! She is planning to buy another auto and is thrilled that 'Statefarm' will continue to insue her. I see a change in her memory etc. Is there a phone number, in which a family member can call the 'DMV' in confidence?