How to Talk To Senior Citizens About Their Driving

senior citizen serious conversation

September 4, 2018

Ellis Law Corporation

Auto Accident

Your aging parent has spent a lifetime caring for you. Now that the roles are reversed, it can be challenging to handle sensitive issues like driving safety. As difficult as it is to begin the conversation, delaying it could lead to something far worse: Serious injury or even death from a car accident. As experienced car accident litigators, the lawyers at Ellis Injury Law in Los Angeles know all too well the heartbreak that serious crashes can cause. We’d like to offer a few tips to help you talk about driving safety with your aging loved one.

Prepare for the conversation

It’s almost certain that your aging loved one is going to have some objections when you have the conversation. It’s best to prepare for them in advance. Concrete evidence of your loved one’s dangerous driving habits may be difficult for him or her to deny. Take a ride or two with your loved one and discreetly observe dangerous driving habits. Write them all down later on, and add any other problems you’ve noticed recently to the list.

Some examples of dangerous driving habits are:

  • Following too closely
  • Failure to use the turn signal
  • Having trouble staying in the lane
  • Having delayed reaction times

Some examples of other issues that can affect your loved one’s abilities include:

  • A recent diagnosis of cataracts or glaucoma
  • Arthritis
  • Hearing impairment
  • New medication that may cause dizziness or drowsiness

Start the discussion

Many people find that getting the conversation started is the most difficult part. Choose a distraction-free place to have the discussion, and make sure there will be plenty of time to discuss the issue. Keep your tone of voice calm and speak in a measured way. Start the discussion by saying something like, “I know this is a sensitive issue, but…”

You could even say something like, “Frankly, I’m uncomfortable bringing this up because I know how important it is to you to continue driving for as long as possible. But I’m growing increasingly concerned for your safety and the safety of others on the road. I’ve noticed that…” Then, go ahead and list the concrete examples of unsafe driving habits you’ve noticed, and mention any medical issues that can impair driving abilities.

Be an active listener

Remember that you’re having a two-way conversation, not delivering a lecture. Focus on being an active listener. Pay close attention to the objections your loved one raises. He or she might worry about getting to a weekly golf game or getting to the supermarket each week. Acknowledge your loved one’s concerns and look for solutions in a collaborative fashion. If your loved one denies that his or her driving is unsafe, you could offer to arrange a professional driving evaluation.

Discuss alternative transportation solutions

Your loved one may be more willing to give up the keys if alternative transportation options are available. Make a list of the local possibilities, like buses and subways. You could also help your loved one learn how to use a ridesharing app. And of course, you and other family members could offer to drive your loved one to the supermarket or doctor’s office.

Car accident lawyers in southern California

The legal team at Ellis Injury Law has more than 20 years of experience handling accident claims in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. If you or your loved one has sustained an injury in a crash, talk to our southern California car accident lawyers today. We offer complimentary, no-obligation consultations, and we never charge a fee unless we win your case. Call 888.675.8254.

Additional resources about traffic safety

  1. National Institute on Aging, Older Drivers,
  2. Everyday Health, 6 Signs It’s Time to Stop Driving,