When should I talk to someone about their safe driving ability?

Transportation planning recognizes that each of us ages at our own rate. Individual capability, medical conditions, and the areas in which we live may all influence how we can be safe drivers. Education and awareness play a major role in an individual’s transportation plan. It is always easier to plan ahead rather than face an abrupt change due to a crisis. Education and awareness about someone’s safe driving habits should begin early.

Transportation planning doesn’t have to start with a decision to no longer drive. In many cases, it starts with education and awareness about steps a person can take so they can drive safely for as long as is reasonable. You can also get help from a driving rehabilitation specialist (DRS), who is a healthcare professional with special training in driver rehabilitation. A DRS can conduct a comprehensive driving evaluation to assess the physical, visual, and cognitive abilities of a driver. Based on this evaluation, a DRS can recommend rehabilitation and suggest vehicle or route modifications.

For example, they can invest in safety features available in cars, identify adaptive equipment that will make driving easier and safer, or take a driver safety class to refresh safe driving habits.

Road safety of a family member is an ongoing conversation. There are also good times to consider a conversation about safe driving habits. Starting early and including transportation planning in a person’s financial and medical planning is advised. This empowers the older driver in the process and lets them prepare ahead of time. Our Older Driver Transportation Planning Tool can help with this process.

While it is important to start the conversation early and have these discussions frequently, certain indicators may present specific discussion points for you with your family member. The Hartford and MIT Age Lab conducted a survey of older drivers that included a question asking under what conditions the driver would feel like someone should talk to them about their driving. The following situations (percentage of respondents indicated) offer some guidance for when you might want to have conversations about driving habits and road safety.

  • If I had some incidents of forgetfulness or getting lost while driving (66 percent)
  • After a significant change in my health (66 percent)
  • If they were generally concerned about my safety (59 percent)
  • If I was involved in a serious accident (44 percent)
  • If I narrowly avoided being involved in an accident (29 percent)
  • If I was involved in a minor accident (21 percent)
  • If I made a mistake while driving (15 percent)

For more information, visit The Harford Family Conversations Guide

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