Time to stop driving? - Word&Way

Time to stop driving?

“Love is doing what people need — not just what they want. Love is doing what people need ­— not what we want.”  Doug Manning

Most maturing adults are wise enough to gradually limit or stop driving when they think they are not safe drivers in certain situations such as night, highway or rush hour traffic.
Occasionally some drivers fail to recognize their declining abilities and it falls to someone else to persuade them to limit or stop driving. If you are a family member, friend or minister called upon to be the confronter in such a situation, the following advice may be helpful to you.
When the time comes to talk to a senior adult about limiting their driving, you will need to approach the issue with sensitivity and compassion. Expect and try to understand their resistance to discuss this issue.
For many this subject is a very emotional issue. Thus, they may dismiss you and refuse to listen. Keep your emotions out of the conversation by treating the senior driver with respect and stressing your concern about their well being and the safety of others.
Share what you have observed about their skills and why it concerns you. It is not beneficial to share what someone else has said about the situation as that will only change the focus of the conversation.
Make it a goal to lead the driver to make his/her own decision on how they will limit their driving. This sense of control is very important to breaking down their resistance to this life changing-decision.
It is best to ask questions rather than make demands. For example: “Would you consider not driving at night?” is received better than “You have to stop driving at night!”
Look for compromises that will help the driver to retire from the road gracefully. For example, “I know Sunday and Wednesday night worship services are important to you. Instead of driving yourself, how about you letting me take you or arrange for someone to take you to church?”
Do your research and be prepared to share information on transportation alternatives in your area. For example, some communities offer senior discount rates for bus and taxi service.
Often the Area Agency on Aging provides seniors free transportation to their health care providers.
If you feel strongly that the senior driver cannot drive safely, you have little choice but to get them to stop driving. It will be wonderful if they agree without an argument. If you are not so lucky you may need to consider using the following actions:
Communicate your concerns to your loved one’s primary physician and/or the local Department of Motor Vehicles. Depending on state statutes the doctor or DMV may be able to issue a “no driving” directive which may help convince the senior to stop driving.
More direct means are to take away the car keys, disable the car or move it to a location beyond the senior’s access. While these actions may seem extreme and are filled with conflict, it may be necessary to save the lives of the senior, other drivers and pedestrians.
Remember “love is doing what people need — not just what they want,” including telling them it is time to limit or stop their driving.          

Frank Fain is the senior adult specialist for The Baptist Home. Contact him at