Should They Drive?
Assessing Their Competency

Issues to Consider

Your parents may not have a car. But if they do and are physically or mentally compromised, driving can be disastrous. Assessing their competency is key. Many older drivers are fine on the road. Some should not be driving at night. Others may need cars with more features or to take a driving refresher course.

You need to know if your parent is unsafe or making someone else unsafe.

Can you – or a relative – drive with Mom ? Does your dad seem distracted when he drives? Does he have a problem with traffic signals, get honked at a lot, have close calls, speed or drive too slowly? Do you know if your parents have gotten tickets for bad driving? Are they forgetting where they’re going? Wearing their seat belt? Is their car dented or has their automobile insurance rate gone up? Have they been diagnosed with a new disease or condition?

Could they be driving the wrong model of car?

Too big, too much or too little on the dashboard, or is it difficult for them to get in and out of the car? Perhaps they need more technology, such as a reverse backup camera, smart headlights, or a blind spot or lane departure warning system. Many autos have those features or they can get them installed in their current car.

Confer with your parent’s doctor to see if you should be worried. Have they seen a change in her cognitive or physical condition (i.e. vision or hearing), for example? Is Dad on medication that could make him drowsy?

What do they think of their driving?

If you’re still not sure, you’ll need some objective measures to determine their driving ability. It could be an online tool that asks questions and then gives them a score and/or suggestions or an evaluation by an occupational therapist or professional driving teacher ($100-$200).

If there’s room for improvement but no cause to call it quits, there are online and in person driving improvement courses. /(Some insurance companies reduce the rates for those who take classes.)