How To Convince An Elderly Parent To Give Up Driving

By Subodh / March 9, 2014

One of the ironic parts of growing older is that the relationship between parents and their children often becomes reversed. Whereas once your parents took care of you out of love and responsibility, as they enter their golden years you begin to help with little things, like doing the night driving, balancing their checkbook, negotiating a home repair, etc. These tasks begin to increase as they celebrate more birthdays, and you may find yourself becoming more involved with their lives, like going with them to doctor’s appointments, setting up their medicines, going to the grocery for them. This is also done out of love and responsibility.

As they kept you from burning your fingers on a hot stove, it is now time to be a champion for their safety and keep them out of harm’s way. Eventually you notice as a passenger in your parent’s car, they can’t hear a siren coming up behind them. Or they pull out into oncoming traffic, or they forget where they are or where they are going. One of the most dangerous activities for aging parents is to engage in driving once their reaction time, hearing and vision, and memory start to go. Here is a look at some tips for you to help convince elderly parents to stop driving.

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Driving Laws for Seniors

Before you plan to have the talk with your aging parents about giving up driving, you need to know the state laws for elderly drivers. At this time, there is no legally required age for giving up driving. Many states have laws that drivers must pass an eye test. Only a very few states require a road test. Far too many don’t have any restrictions at all for elderly drivers.

Tennessee doesn’t even require renewals at all after the age of 65! The state of Missouri requires drivers over the age of 70 to come in every three years to renew their driver’s licenses. One other thing to keep in mind about Missouri driving laws is that your parents will have to pass a vision test when they go in every three years to renew their licenses. If you know that your parents’ vision has started to deteriorate, you need to let them know that they may have to give up driving if they cannot pass the vision test.

You should also explain to your parents that if they continue to drive with poor vision or slower reaction time and they get into a car accident in Missouri they may be charged with negligence. The car accident attorneys in Missouri are knowledgeable about accident laws and can provide statistics on age related accidents. These facts may encourage your parent to evaluate their driving abilities more closely.

This really puts this discussion right in your court, however because even if your parent passes an eye or road test one year, his or her ability to safely operate a vehicle could be severely impaired within the three years they have before they must renew their license. If you know that your parent has a renewal coming up soon, it gives you a great opportunity to broach the subject of putting their driving days in the past.

How to Talk with your Parents About Quitting Driving

You have to be very careful when you are approaching this talk. If you are not tactful and sensitive, it could lead to an argument and the discussion will be closed. On the one hand, your parents may not yet realize – or want to admit – that their driving skills are diminishing. You need to keep in mind that parents may very well feel both frightened and ashamed if they are losing the physical attributes they need to keep driving.

Loss of independence is a huge factor. Parents never want to be a burden. They want to do for themselves and come and go as they please. They do not want to have to depend on anyone else to meet their basic need to grocery shop, go to the doctor, or visit family or friends.

They don’t want to have to wait until you are available to take them where they need to go. Losing the ability to drive and the independence that comes with it cuts very deep and can cause great emotional repercussions. Your parent may be angry, sad, and anxious all at once.

Of course, you need to be very understanding about these concerns when you have the discussion about quitting driving with your parents. You need to emphasize that this decision is not a reflection on their shortcomings, but rather it is a reflection on their responsibility. To continue driving after their ability is clearly impaired can be compared to driving under the influence, and is just as reckless. Operating a car becomes second nature to a seasoned driver, but that same seasoned driver-turned-elderly driver can get as nervous and anxious as a teen taking the car out for the very first time.

People make bad decisions under this kind of stress, and making this bad decision could cost dearly in the form of human life or physical property. While elderly drivers are not forbidden to drive in many states, at the same time, states hold elderly drivers fully accountable for their actions. Causing an accident or injury can result in a savings-draining event that puts great strain on a retirement budget. Emphasizing the wisdom of being responsible enough to give up driving when they are no longer able to do so safely is a great way to convince your parents to hand over the car keys for good.

Another great way to appeal to your parents is to emphasize the dangers that exist if they continue to keep driving when their physical capabilities are diminished by age. One bad moment behind the wheel could cost someone their lives, which is a strong incentive to get them to agree to stop driving.

This process may not be easy, but it is very important to keep going until your parents agree to hand over their keys. Their lives and the safety of others on the road are at stake. Be persistent and understanding at all times, and you will find success in your endeavor.

Teresa Stewart is a professional blogger who frequently researches car accidents. By performing online searches for car accident attorneys in Missouri and Tennessee, she was able to find research for this article.