Family Conversations About Older Driver Safety
Having a conversation with a loved one about the importance of older driver safety might not be the easiest thing you do. To tell an older adult that they might have to stop driving because it is a safety risk to themselves and to the people on the road may lead to many arguments. Family and friends play a major role in the discussion about older driver safety. So when is the right time to discuss safety in driving? Discussing driver safety can come after an older adult is involved in a minor crash or has received a traffic citation. It would only be natural to have a discussion after an incident, but best time to have a conversation is when the older driver is still a competent driver. You can discuss minor changes that will help with safety, without discussing giving up driving all together.
You may be met with some resistance when you tell an older adult that they need to change their driving habits or give up driving all together. If you plan on telling an older adult that they should not be driving anymore, you should facilitate a course of action to allow them to still travel. You don’t want them missing community events and feeling like they are missing out on their everyday activities.
You can reinforce driver safety by including positive comments when you are transporting an older adult. “It’s so nice to spend time with you” or “I’m glad you let me drive today” reinforces that it’s not a bad thing to give up driving. You may also want to bring up some of the financial flexibility involved with giving up driving. Older drivers would no longer have to incur costs to keep up the car, pay insurance, or spend money on gas.
Occupational therapy professionals suggest that older drivers and their families select a family member or friend to be a “driving advocate” who will commit to ride with the older driver on a regular basis and will voice concerns and give advice. Occupational therapists have special skills to determine if an older adult should be driving or not. Occupational therapy practitioners can provide families with materials on older driver safety, support families when bringing up the topic, and look at older adults holistically to provide tailored information. It’s very important to keep the lines of communications open about older driver safety.