My father is 86 years old and I am an attentive son. He is an intelligent, resourceful and energetic man. We were on our way to an appointment and as we approached our cars, he asked me if I was still comfortable driving in his car, “Did I still trust his driving?” This was a first! He went on to explain “the vision in my right eye isn’t so good, actually I can barely see things on the right. I do not drive at night anymore.” We got into his car and indeed, he drove a little too slowly, and a little too close to the curb. My father treasures his independence. I am concerned. What can I do? How can I proceed without offending him or depriving him of his freedom?
Dear “Driving with Daddy,”
Did you know that the vast majority of British Columbians are worried about the safety of aging drivers (Tiffany Crawford, Vancouver Sun, April 9, 2014)? Younger adults care about the road safety of aging loved ones, but they do not know how to begin the conversation. BCAA discusses this issue in their recent Mature Driver Survey. They have also launched a senior drivers’ tool kit, an online resource to keep senior drivers safe on the road (www.bcaa.com/seniordrivers). This is a conversation guide to help people discuss the issue. The kit includes a driving assessment comprised of a questionnaire about roadway habits and an interactive test measuring leg strength, mobility, vision and reaction time. Senior drivers can also learn about how aging affects their ability to drive and get tips on how to keep their skill up- to- date.
The B.C. Government has listed medical reasons for driving- skills deterioration and concerns about someone’s fitness to drive, as well as information of a “Driver Medical Examination Requirement”
(http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/osmv/road-safety/seniors.htm ). The Office of the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles (OSMV, Victoria, BC, 250-387-7747) states that medical professionals, vision specialists, family members, allied health care providers, or concerned citizens can send a report to the OSMV regarding concerns they have about a driver’s fitness to drive safely.
Your father is showing courage and strength in admitting to his problems by taking some appropriate steps to limit his driving and by opening the conversation with you. After looking over the suggested websites, sit down with him and go over the “tool kit”. He may be ready to takes the tests, perhaps to improve his skills, or, on the other hand, to further reduce his driving possibilities.