Starting a conversation about safe driving with an elderly person is not easy, especially if it is your father or mother. It is normal to worry about how not to offend or discredit them. If you want to keep their freedom and mobility intact, and at the same time make sure that they and the rest of road users are safe, there are ways to approach the topic together in a positive and calm way.
- Talk to your relative in a respectful and open way. Nobody likes to be called a dangerous driver, so try to avoid generalising about senior drivers or drawing conclusions about their skills or abilities at the wheel. Be assertive, do not infantilize and highlight solutions that will help him/her keep his/her safety and at the same time his/her mobility.
- Avoid mass conversations Have a private dialogue with the senior family member you want to help. Just you and him/her. Calling the whole family might irritate and upset the elderly person, who might feel unnecessarily judged. Choose the best moment. If you do it right after an accident or a fine, you might make him/her feel guilty.
- Preserve his/her privacy. Always ask your father/mother/relative for permission before talking to his/her doctor, friends or neighbours about their behaviour at the wheel.
- Do not make prejudgements. Focus on available data and facts, such as the health condition, the medication he/she is taking, or if your elderly relative has received a fine or a minor accident. Do not accuse the elderly person of being a danger at the wheel and do not decide unilaterally that he/she has to quit driving. Focus on road safety and on making a joint decision about the steps to be taken in order to continue moving with autonomy and safety.
- Be patient and listen to his/her needs and arguments. Decisions should not be taken in a hurry or forcing them. The process may be quite long as it includes reflecting and assessing alternatives to keep the right of moving with freedom and autonomy.