Dangerous Senior Drivers

What to Do About a Dangerous Older Driver
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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.


5 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.?


over 1 year 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?


about 2 years ago, said...

Elderly driveers can be pretty dangerous


almost 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!!!!!


almost 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!


almost 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 .


almost 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


almost 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


almost 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/


almost 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?


almost 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 .


about 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?


over 4 years ago, said...

CA-Claire, thank you for the reply, however my point was that we did not use an "extralegal" method to remove the car. In fact, by having the guardianship, it was the legal method for the action we took. Also, while I mentioned the Conservatorship aspect, it did not play a part in this event, only the guardianship for physical safety and well being. Therefore this event causes no concerns regarding auditors or the county. It's true that with a Conservatorship, you need to keep meticulous records as you are under the direction of a court and subject to auditing on an annual basis. Fortunately Kansas has forms and booklets to help step you thru this process. But again, as it's related to finances, unrelated to this experience. Regarding the Community Service Officer, the desk sergeant suggested in the future we ask for a "Civil Standby" whenever action like this is required. The police will send officers as observers only, but their presence helps with the department having enough information already on scene to avoid any mistakes on their part in communication about the event. The officer there can block any misinformation from entering their system. We will check into the Community Service Officer, may well be the same person/concept. Again, thanks for the reply and concern.


over 4 years ago, said...

bricon123 - so sorry that you had to use the 'extralegal' method to remove the car. While in your case it was probably best to use the Guardian/Conservatorship, people need to be careful with this, as the county can send auditors to look over the books and such. Any reports they write are public record.... Another way that you could have removed the car, is to have the 'Community Service Officer' come with you while you removed the car. Every department has one.


over 4 years ago, said...

Background: Dad is diagnosed with mild dementia of ALZ type. Fairly high functioning. Dad is an aggressive driver anyway. He of course, denies any of this. Neurologist finally determined he was a danger (so did we) Reported him to Kansas DMV. They sent a form for Optomologist, Physical Health, Mental Health. Dad aced the vision and physical (two doctor visits) but had to pass the Neurologist. She of course failed him. BUT, the form required Dad to sign off on the HIPPA release to the state! Really? Of course he didnt. He then went to a random Nurse Practitioner who passed him! In the mean time, we (brothers and sister) had filed a petition with the court naming my brother as his temporary guardian/conservitor (you can imagine that all of this has been extreamly stressfull) with hearing for permanant to follow. We reported him to KDMV and in 30 days he has to face a actual examiner. But the point is, with my brothers new found authority, we disabled his car in the mean time. (more stress for Dad and us). Worked for 2 weeks, then he figured it out and had it fixed. So we checked with both our lawyer, and the local police who confirmed that with my brothers status as temp. guardian, he had the authority to remove the car. We did that last night. 1st we called the police dispatch to advise. After we left with the car, Dad called 911. When the officers (who must not have gotten the memo that this was already pre-arranged with the Desk Sargent) got there, Dad of all people, told him we did it, showed the officers his copy of my brothers legal document for G/C and advised him there was nothing they could do for him. For once his bad judgement issue worked in our favor because I was the one driving what could have been a "stolen" vehicle thru town with a APB out for it. If he had not shown the on scene officers that paper and explained the situation himself, I could only imagine me at gun point trying to show them MY copy of that document and explaining it. Actions taken: We asked the Neurologist to call the RPN's supervising doctor to have a "chat" about passing him. (By the way, RPN worked for same practice and had access to Dad's records) We called the Desk Sargent back and he helped us "register" Dad with his department showing his issues and my brothers G/C paperwork. To sum up, in this article, it mentioned caution using "extralegal" removal of a car. I highly recommend that caregivers go beyond the DPOA step and file for Guardian / Conservitor. It's expensive (around $2000) and can be disruptive to the family harmony (vast understatement) but with an uncooperative parent, but it helps protect you while you are protecting your parent.


over 4 years ago, said...

I am so concerned for my step-dad. He has had dementia for several years, but in the last 6 months, it has progressed. I live far away but talk several times a week to my mom. While we are on the phone, he has needed help to find the bathroom in their house they've lived in for 25 years. For the last 2 years, he has counted on my mom to navigate him anywhere they go. He insists on driving. It makes me worried sick. I have heard of some close calls they've had, of him "turning left" at the light, but into the oncoming traffic! He realizes he gets lost on his own, and doesn't take the car alone anymore, but yesterday he left and was gone for 18 hours! The police found him at 5am, after he ran a red light. They asked if he was lost, and he said no. He said he was going to meet his wife in some town. He was very confused and not making sense. He does not even realize how long he was gone. He doesn't realize this was a big deal. The police told my mom to hide his keys. She is consoling him, saying, it's ok, you can still drive with me by your side. Am I crazy???? I think there is no way he should still be driving if he isn't capable of getting from point a to b (and I'm talking the usual places he's been to for 30 years) on his own. It's not a safe situation to be a driving puppet like that. I can't understand, my usually wise mother not seeing this for what it is. The police said they are going to suggest a drivers test for him. But if the test only consists of them telling him exactly where to go...he may just pass. Can anyone give me some input.