The DC DMV knows how important it is to keep your family safe and mobile. While you may know your family members and their driving habits, it is also important that you recognize the warning signs of unsafe driving and know how to cope with aging drivers.
So What’s Next?
Developing a family transportation plan is critical to safety, mobility, and independence. Discuss driving and the future with your family member using the following approach:
- Collect information
- Develop a plan of action
- Follow through on the plan of action
- Be Aware of Warning Signs
Below are just a few of the many warning signs of unsafe driving. If you still feel the senior may present a hazard on the road, it may be time for the senior driver to give up the keys. This can be a very difficult call for you to make, especially if the senior is a parent or other close figure is used to having their independence.
- Diminished eyesight
- Becoming lost on familiar routes
- Feeling nervous or exhausted after driving
- Frequently weaving, straddling, and drifting into other lanes without signaling
- Finding scrapes and dents on vehicles, mailboxes, or other stationary objects
- Be Supportive and Available
Giving up the keys may result in feelings of loneliness for the senior driver. Some see driving as the first step in losing contact with friends and family members. Always let your loved ones know that you are just a phone call away.
- Find Alternate Transportation
When working to limit or eliminate driving from a senior driver, look into other modes of transportation, like DC Office of Aging Transportation Services and someone should travel with them on the first few trips until they feel comfortable traveling on their own.
- Enlist Mutual Support
Friends, neighbors, and other family members can help! If the senior driver is reluctant to impose on those drivers, suggest that they reimburse the driver to relieve their sense of obligation.
- Do Not Immediately Get Rid of the Car
Many seniors feel more secure just knowing that their car is still there. Seeing the car every day in its usual spot often eases the transition to a non-driving lifestyle.
Studies show that senior drivers give the least credibility to family members who criticize their driving. These drivers show much more willingness to accept suggestions from law enforcement officers, doctors, and friends
If you find yourself in the position of talking to an older family member or friend about their driving, approach the issue with sensitivity. A driver license signifies more than the ability to drive a car; it is a symbol of freedom and self-sufficiency.