Making decisions about restricting driving can be difficult, and family members sometimes allow a person to drive despite obvious safety concerns. You may fear that your family member will be angry and hurt if they're told they can no longer drive.
If you have a family member who shows signs of being unable to drive safely, consider the following:
- Public safety is a very high priority. Ask yourself: "Am I comfortable having this person drive my children/grandchildren?"
- Driving is not a right, it's a privilege that the province may grant or withhold.
- An older driver does not automatically equal an unsafe driver.
- Driving and owning a vehicle has practical significance and symbolic meaning. Driving is more than just a mode of transportation - it enhances freedom and independence.
- Be sure to involve the driver in decisions.
- Take an active role when necessary.
If you have a family member who may no longer have the ability to drive safely, there are steps you can take to evaluate their driving and to make any needed restrictions more easily.
Encourage your family member to:
- Enroll in a Mature Driver's Refresher Course, available through the Saskatchewan Safety Council. The course will help your driver to evaluate and refresh their driving skills and keep them driving safely for as long as possible.
- Book an in-vehicle driver assessment through the Saskatchewan Safety Council.
- Read a copy of The Mature Driver guide.
Evaluate your family member's driving skills yourself
- getting into car crashes or mild 'fender-benders'?
- getting lost while driving?
- having near misses with other vehicles?
- causing other drivers to honk their horns or show signs of irritation?
- running stop lights or stopping at green lights without realizing?
- confusing the gas and brake pedals?
- needing a family member to act as a 'co-pilot'?
Any of these behaviours may be a sign your family member is no longer able to drive safely. If you see any of these behaviours, it's time to assess whether the individual still has the ability to operate a vehicle safely.
Get help from professionals
Seek support from your family member's physician or health-care provider. Most people view their doctor as objective and will listen to what the doctor has to say. Also, a medical reason for not driving may help your family member save face.
Ask our Medical Review Unit to assess your family member's abilities. Involving the Medical Review Unit can remove the burden and 'bad guy' image from you. It is an objective evaluation and is completely confidential - your name is never released to the driver or anyone else.
Tips on how to talk to a family member about their driving
- Take a positive approach:
- Be sensitive to the significance and impact of driving on your family member and acknowledge it to them.
- Use I messages rather than You messages - "I am concerned about your safety."
- Use a caring tone.
- Prepare for 'arrows of anger':
- Expect and accept anger and hurt.
- Avoid becoming aggressive.
- Avoid taking your family member's anger personally.
- Support your family member:
- Listen to them.
- Find out what is important to that person to do and to attend, and find alternative ways to get the person where they want to be.
- Don't judge the person's desires.
- Develop a plan of action with the person not for him.
- Explore transportation options:
- public transportation
- taxi service
- hire a driver
- bartering - buy their driver's lunch, do baking for them, buy their gas
- car pooling
- senior/volunteer programs
- motorized scooter or bicycle (needs to be road worthy)
- contact your local town office for available options
Recognize that giving up a licence does not mean giving up the car. Your family member can keep his or her car and offer it to other people to drive.
If your family member has dementia
Dementia raises additional problems with respect to driving, because the individual may not remember or clearly understand that their driving has been restricted.
If your family member has dementia, consider these options:
- Get the doctor to write a prescription stating 'no driving' and show it to him or her.
- Control access to the car keys or change the car key.
- Disable the car.
- Move the car out of your family member's sight (seeing it may trigger him or her to think they can still drive).
- Sell the car (tell him or her it can't be repaired or that it isn't safe to drive if you need to).