Initiating a conversation about safe driving with an older driver, especially a parent, can be challenging. Concerns about offending or alienating an older driver are normal. There is no simple or easy way to address the subject, but if you want to help preserve the older driver’s personal freedom and mobility, while ensuring safety on the road, there are steps you can take.
Communicate openly and respectfully.
Nobody wants to be called a dangerous driver, so avoid making generalizations about older drivers or jumping to conclusions about their skills or abilities behind the wheel. Be positive, supportive, and focus on ways to help keep them safely on the go.
Avoid an intervention.
Keep the discussion between you and the older driver you want to assist. Inviting the whole family to the talk will alienate and possibly anger the recipient of the conversation.
Make privacy a priority.
Always ask for permission to speak with an older driver’s physician, friends, or neighbors about the driver’s behavior behind the wheel.
Never make assumptions.
Focus on the facts available to you, such as a medical condition or medication regimen that might make driving unsafe. Do not accuse an older driver of being unsafe or assume that driving should be stopped altogether. Focus the conversation on safe driving and working together.
Talk about the future.
The Driver Planning Agreement can be a guide for your conversation about safe driving. It allows your family to plan together for future changes in driving abilities before they become a concern.