Initiating a conversation about safe driving with an older driver, especially a parent, is challenging for most people. 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, be 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 conversation will alienate and possibly anger the person you’re trying to help.
- 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.
Use this Driver Planning Agreement as 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.