How should I tell my parents to stop driving? Having this kind of a discussion with your parents is a little like the discussion that they had with you many years ago when you first learned to drive. Your parents know that driving is a potentially dangerous part of life. When you began to drive they had you go to driving school to learn about the potential dangers and how to handle them. You can use that discussion from many years ago as a blueprint or a model for a conversation about their current situation. Here are some tips to follow for when you do decide to have this delicate conversation with your parents:
- Discuss the affects that age can have on their ability to drive safely, including:
a) Fading eyesight – Ask your parents if they are able to see as well as they used to. Ask them if they have been missing road signs while driving, causing them to miss exits or roads. Let them know how much this concerns you. Let them know that you are worried about them not seeing a car pulling out in front of them, someone walking, or someone riding a bike in the street.
b) Fading hearing – Discuss how well your parents are hearing. Have they had trouble hearing other drivers’ horns or ambulance sirens? If they fail to hear a police car trying to pull them over or an ambulance coming from behind needing to get around them, they could cause harm to themselves or others.
c) Slower reflexes – Driving can sometimes require quick reflexes. Ask your parents to consider the times that a car pulls out too slowly in front of them. Or a time that a car runs a red light. Times like these can be dangerous for people with quick reflexes, let alone a person who is not able to respond as quickly.
- Remind them of how much they cared and worried about you when you were beginning to drive and relate those feelings to how you currently feel about them. Let them know that the reason you are having this discussion about no longer driving is because you fear for their safety.
- Remind them that they are not only endangering themselves, but endangering others when they reach the point of driving unsafely. Simple things such as having a stiff neck, dim eyesight, less than efficient hearing, or slower reflexes can cause a wreck that affects multiple lives.
- Discuss alternatives for maintaining independence. Your parents love you and they do value your opinion. Yet they will struggle with the impending loss of independence that no longer driving represents. Help them through this by talking about other ways that they can get around on their own timetable. Help them with bus schedules, using taxis, arranging schedules with yourself or other friends or family members in order for your parents to feel that they have not lost all of their independence.
This may be a difficult discussion to have, but it is not impossible. Your parents are still the same loving, compassionate people they were when they discussed your driving and they will be receptive to your conversation if you approach them with the same love and respect that they have for you.