Because driving is closely tied to freedom and independence, acknowledging the possibility of one day being unable to drive is difficult for almost anybody. This is why it’s important to prepare for a conversation about safe driving.
- Do your homework. Complete the following checklist before initiating a conversation about safe driving with an older adult.
- Conduct a “ride-along” with the driver. Join the driver as a passenger during several trips and note your thoughts and observations – both positive and negative. Try to ride with the older adult at different times to get a good sense of driving performance under a variety of road conditions.
- Consult those with special knowledge. Discuss your concerns with a law enforcement officer, an elder-law attorney or a geriatrician about any concerns and seek advice tailored to your specific situation before you have a conversation about safe driving. Collect information about local options for a professional driving assessment and driver retraining courses.
- Understand the older adult’s transportation needs. Determine the purposes for the older adult’s driving. Consider medical appointments, social obligations, religious commitments, shopping and community activities. Doing so will help you to appreciate how important driving is to the senior driver and assist you in finding transportation alternatives.
- Determine local transportation services. Generate a list of different services available, the cost to use them, scheduling, phone numbers and so forth to share when you initiate the conversation about safe driving. Try taking trips on several of these services, so you understand how to use them and whether or not they are convenient and easy to use and access.
- Write it all down. Once you’ve completed your research, organize the information. Use it to develop an action plan for your conversation about safe driving. Then, after you have had a productive conversation, document the plan you and the older adult mutually agreed to pursue and review it together for accuracy.