Is it Still Safe for Mom to be Driving?

open-roadI remember how excited I was when I got my license and could drive to 7-11 just because I wanted a slurpee.  It wasn’t really about the slurpee but about just being able to go where ever I wanted to go, when I wanted. I didn’t have to plead with a parent to take me somewhere.

Nearly 40 years later, I am still in love with the freedom a car brings. My husband and I always talk about how nice it would be to be within walking distance to the shopping area of our town, but for now, if we want something from a store, it’s a car ride away.

Driving is a precious right most of us take for granted. For those of us who have had to suggest to a spouse or tell a parent we think it’s unsafe for them to drive, we know how devastating and contentious this discussion becomes.

My parents used to help pick up my kids from pre/school and it was wonderful to know we had a safety net. However, I realized when I was riding with my dad how unsafe his driving had become and we quickly managed to make other arrangements. We didn’t actually tell them why, we attributed it to another parent or team practice.  We initiated pizza night so we could spend time together, but not have our kids as passengers in our parent’s car.

We did subtly ask about the growing number of scraps on the car, but we knew my parents would never willingly give up their car keys. Years later we realized they had cognitive issues and if you want to know how bad it got, you can read these stories.

However, I have heard from several adult children who know something is cognitively wrong with  a parent, and they haven’t considered how unsafe driving can be. Our worries grew when my dad, the engineer, and a navigational savant, was getting lost every now and then on the drive drive from their house to my home. It was a drive he made for more than a decade and hundreds of times.

If you are concerned, I hope you will discuss it with your loved ones. We were rebuked and chided when it was mentioned. A doctor submitted the papers to revoke both of their driving licenses’ after they showed up in the ER and weren’t sure why they were there or for whom they came. Every state has a process to report your concerns. Several people have often shared they would call the police on their own parent which resulted in getting a license revoked. It’s not easy and it’s not a light-hearted topic at all.

The real issue becomes processing speed and the ability to make decisions when you are driving. If someone is having trouble recalling information, they will have the same trouble behind the wheel of a car, but the consequences are much bigger and the outcome could be devastating for your family … and someone else’s if you ignore that a loved one might no longer be safe on the road. Recommended. 

You should have similiar options in your state. Here are examples of what Virginia offers:

Reporating an Impaired Driver

What a Doctor Can Submit to Notify the DMV Driving is Unsafe 


4 thoughts on “Is it Still Safe for Mom to be Driving?

  1. Agree, this can be one of the most difficult conversations to have, but the lives of your loved ones and innocent strangers are potentially at risk, so it’s a must-have talk.

  2. This is such an important topic and yet so difficult to handle! I know very few seniors who would willingly say “Yep, you’re right, I shouldn’t be driving anymore!” It comes down to recognizing that if you wouldn’t let your own kids drive with your parents, then you shouldn’t be letting those same parents drive and endanger anyone else’s kids or family either!

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