17 Mar How to Stop a Parent from Driving
Although many older drivers actually have a better safety rating than younger drivers, it is a common concern that a parent might endanger himself or herself as well as others if the keys to the car are not taken. People are living longer – so they are driving until an older age (my wife’s great uncle drove until he was 102). However an effort to take away the keys is often perceived as removal of independence – in addition to the lack of convenience of having a car available whenever needed. My wife’s grandmother (Grandma Gussie – who unlike her younger brother only drove until she was 96) always complained that when her car was sold she lacked the convenience of someone driving her when there was an immediate need. As our society continues to age, this topic seems to be common. In fact, AARP even has a “We Need to Talk” webinar on how to address whether the senior should continue to drive. Sometimes simply installing adaptive safety equipment (especially for seniors or those who are disabled) is all that is needed. However, at some point (if we live long enough), there comes a time where there needs to be a discussion.
Of course, the first point that should be addressed with the older driver is safety for both the driver and others. If that doesn’t work and there are no family options to drive the senior, there are numerous local transportation options available. The City of Dallas Senior Services has a “Get a Ride Program” which has over 20 pages of available options – several are free or have only a nominal cost for services such as grocery shopping or medical transportation. The site is not limited to Dallas as several suburbs have options as well. In addition, some charitable organizations have volunteers who will take seniors to their desired destination.
However, if the senior believes they are still safe enough to drive, you might suggest a defensive driving test to see if there is actual fitness to drive. This could result in a challenge since this might be contrary to their normal driving pattern. Personally, I told my mom she could resume driving after she had health issues “whenever her doctor said she was fit to do so”. She never drove again.
Financial issues should also be discussed since there could be liability not only for the driver, but also for someone (i.e., the agent under a power of attorney given other circumstances or someone who had the power to act but omitted to do so) who negligently allowed the driver to drive when knowing the driver could be the proximate cause of damage to someone else. All of one’s life savings could be put at risk by one fatal mistake. Insurance coverage alone might be more expensive than simply arranging other transportation – not to mention the cost of maintaining a car.
One could also make a written report to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Driver Improvement and Compliance Bureau. If the Department of Public Safety decides after investigation that the person is unable to exercise reasonable and ordinary care while driving, then a driver’s license could be revoked. Your parent’s doctor could make this report.
Finally, when someone is over 79 in Texas they are subject to “Katie’s law” which requires a fitness test in person before their license is renewed. If one is over 85, their license must be renewed every 2 years and pass any tests required by the Department of Public Safety. Otherwise, there may be a refusal to renew the driver’s license.
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