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Old 06-19-13, 04:22 PM   #1
B. Carfree
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Anyone have success convincing elderly relatives to hang up the keys?

My parents and in-laws have all reached that time in their lives where their driving skills have diminished to the point that they should not be behind the wheel. A decade ago they all agreed that when the time came, they would gracefully acknowledge it and stop driving before they killed anyone. In fact, my father drove out from Colorado three years ago because he knew it would be the last time in his life that he could do so. Now that the time has come, all of them have modified their views. Does anyone have any success stories to help me here? Actually, even failures can help, in the sense that no one wants to be "that guy" who drove into a crowd of people because he got disoriented.

By the way, here's how bad it has gotten. My father-in-law was driving home with my mother-in-law. They woke up at an intersection in Silicon Valley at a red light. They had no idea how long they had been sleeping. Apparently, they fell asleep while the light was red and didn't wake up for several cycles of the signal. I'm sure there were many car horns that they didn't hear. He also drove into his garage door, which is one of those things that seem to happen at both ends of one's driving career. (My sister did this on her first drive ever.)

If this doesn't qualify as cycling related, I apologize. However, incompetent motorists does seem to be a recurring theme here and I would appreciate any help or inspiration that anyone can offer.
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Old 06-19-13, 04:27 PM   #2
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my father willingly stopped driving when he was 85. His last drive ended with him rear-ending someone at a stop light, and he decided it made no sense for him to continue. A couple of years later he had starting to suffer from dementia and wanted to drive again. His excuse was driving himself in an emergency. I told him that he could drive in an emergency without a license.

I have resolved to stop driving at 85. Obviously, I don't know if I will still feel the same way when I get there. Seems to me that a lot of older people spend so much on their vehicles that they could easily afford other transportation modes if they stopped those expenses. It seems like it's a lot easier to budget for a car though, we're all used to having that be a fixed expense.
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Old 06-19-13, 05:36 PM   #3
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My Grandmother willingly stopped driving somewhere in her 80s.

It does help to have a market right across the street.

An interesting little side point, she did continue to renew her license. The last time, within a year of her death, the DMV folks were going to try to talk her out of it until she explained she did not intend to drive, but if there was an emergency she wanted to be legal.

Rather the reverse of some old folks who continue to drive after losing their license.

EDIT: My grandparents on my fathers side ended up more closely tied to my fathers brother late in life, so I'm not sure of any issues there. My Grandfather on my mother's side and my Father (and for that matter my grandmother on my mothers side) all went from reasonable to drive to falling apart fairly quickly.

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Old 06-19-13, 07:29 PM   #4
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At about the age of eighty, my dad would frequently come out with "you want to drive" on family trips. One long trip we made to the bay area he drove the first fifty miles to pick up my brother, then let us share driving the rest of the way. He had his wits about him to the end of his 83 years, but was getting slower, and his peripheral vision was going. He knew it was time on his own.
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Old 06-19-13, 07:34 PM   #5
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The biggest problem is their loss of independence, and having to rely on others to take them anywhere.
Is there anything that law enforcement can do to revoke their license if they become unsafe?

One of my pet peeves when my dad drives is when he stops at red lights over a car length away from the car in front of his, so that the road sensor won't trip. Leaving the blinker on for miles is also annoying.
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Old 06-19-13, 07:49 PM   #6
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While one tour in Maine my friend was hit by an elderly gentlemen who was blinded by the sun and plowed right into him. His bike was wrecked and he had minor injuries but I don't think that guy drove any more after that. I thought he would have a heart attack in response to the accident at the time.

My mother-in-law, 92 years old, drives to the local market and to Mass every day- a distance of about 3 miles. She's never been a particularly good driver. She actually has a pretty heavy foot and when she lived in Florida and was driving more frequently she got a good share of speeding tickets and a fair share of accidents. About 5 years ago we were meeting family at a country club near her home. My wife was a passenger with her mother and I, not knowing how to get to the place, followed in my car. My mother-in-law took a weird turn and we ended up on the golf course riding on the path where the golf carts go. We traipsed around the entire 18 holes and when we arrived the entire restaurant was gathered at the windows to watch the two cars driving all over the course. I don't think she should be driving but I stay out of it.

My mother, at age 80, gave up driving after she was rammed from behind at a stop light. Not really her fault but she tended to drive so cautiously that people behind he often almost creamed her a few times. She wisely gave it up without a fight.

I have a 95 year old friend who still drives long distances. I followed her home once, I gave some excuse for why but it was really to observe her driving. She was unbelievably cautious and drove perfectly stopping at every light. Slowing to the speed limit or increasing her speed to exactly the speed limit on every road. It was a country drive of about 40 miles on back roads and at one point a huge black bear ran directly across the road in front of her car. She didn't hit it but I never saw her brake lights go on either. When we got to our destination I said, "Marge, wow! How about that bear that ran across the road! I'm so glad you didn't hit it." she replied, "What bear?"- that worried me. She's still driving. Last summer she showed up at a restaurant with half of the side of her car missing. She'd hit something but didnt know what. Kept right on going and was completely unfazed by the damage and not the least concerned about what she might have hit.
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Old 06-19-13, 08:23 PM   #7
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All you have to do is have the doctor call the DMV or Secretary OF state,,whatever they call it in your state and the jig is up.
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Old 06-19-13, 08:38 PM   #8
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My great uncle refused to drive anything with power steering or an automatic transmission after he turned 75. Drove himself 4 miles to the hospital in a 3-on-the-tree Chevy while having the heart attack that killed him.

Take away the automatic transmission, and people can't do nearly as many stupid things while driving...at least not while driving very fast.
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Old 06-19-13, 08:48 PM   #9
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Last summer she showed up at a restaurant with half of the side of her car missing. She'd hit something but didnt know what. Kept right on going and was completely unfazed by the damage and not the least concerned about what she might have hit.
my car has a big dent in the right front fender. I didn't do it, and the other two drivers don't know anything about it. So lack of situational awareness is not confined to the elderly
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Old 06-19-13, 09:14 PM   #10
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I actually told my mother she should stop driving. In fact yesterday, I was talking to her about the accidents she had been in. She didn't even remember some of them. She is almost 75. I don't feel safe, riding in her car.
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Old 06-19-13, 10:25 PM   #11
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My parents are in their 50s now. I'm sure that when the time comes for them to stop driving, Google's self driving cars will be mainstream. So for those under 50, you most likely won't have to worry about giving up the car keys when the time comes, Google will drive you around. 20 years is a long time for technology to improve, and it improves at a faster rate.

Even now, the Google car has only been in one accident, and that was caused by a human driver rear ending it while the self driving car was stopped at a red light.
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Old 06-20-13, 12:41 AM   #12
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For almost all elders I personally know the real issue is being able to take care of life's necessities. How do I get food? How do I maintain my social life? I want to stay useful in the community and not just hang out waiting to die.

Once those issues are taken care of all of them willingly give up their driving license.

But, in most cases, communities don't have realistic alternatives for them. Oh, there is lots of advertising and lots of money spent. But very little actual acceptable transportation.
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Old 06-20-13, 12:49 AM   #13
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Also, don't forget those who,while younger, are under the influence of ability reducing drugs. They are in the same situation. One person I met readily admits to taking therapeutic doses of morphine and then driving. It scares him and I suspect everyone else on the road. But,what realistic choice does he have? None.
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Old 06-20-13, 07:29 AM   #14
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My grandmother was particularly attached to her driver's licence as it was a symbol of her independence. She gradually cut down on her driving as she aged and by the end of her driving career her car went back and forth between home and the grocery store and the mall. She passed her annual driver's exam 4 times after she turned 80 and on her fifth test she suffered a mini-stroke and failed. She went to great lengths to try to get her permit back including hiring a driving instructor to give her a brush up. She scared the daylights out of the instructor. It fell to my dad to "lay down the law." My dad approached it in a forthright and respectful way. He said something along the lines of "I don't tell my wife what to do and I can't tell my kids what to do anymore and I'll be damned if I tell my mother what to do. I make suggestions and I suggest that you no longer drive because you are not safe to yourself and others." There was a lot of emotion but she finally did hang up her keys.

My maternal grandfather passed his first annual test after turning 80 and one day he felt that he was far too slow in reacting to the brake lights of a car in front of him. He went home and announced that he was no longer going to drive. He told me that he could not live with himself if he hurt someone because he was so selfish to keep driving when he knew he was no longer safe behind the wheel. This was only an example of how my grandfather approached life. He was the most honourable person I have ever known.
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Old 06-20-13, 07:33 AM   #15
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My dad only stopped driving after becoming so lost that mum filed a missing person's report.

He was found in another town.

The police and his doctor said 'no more' and my sister simply took his car away and it was sold.

The fact that he had dementia also helped a little. He wasn't going to fight the police.
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Old 06-20-13, 07:41 AM   #16
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I have a 95 year old friend who still drives long distances. I followed her home once, I gave some excuse for why but it was really to observe her driving. She was unbelievably cautious and drove perfectly stopping at every light. Slowing to the speed limit or increasing her speed to exactly the speed limit on every road.
Up to that point, it sounded like how I have driven since I was 30.

I've also nearly been rear-ended because I actually STOP at stop signs - people around here hardly ever see a car do that and it takes them by surprise.
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Old 06-20-13, 08:57 AM   #17
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my car has a big dent in the right front fender. I didn't do it, and the other two drivers don't know anything about it. So lack of situational awareness is not confined to the elderly
A little different in my friend's case- she knew she hit "something" but just didn't know what and kept right on going. Don't get me wrong, I have always had a good number of elderly friends and certainly as I age the numbers of them increase. Some of them are quite fit and able and capable not only of driving but I can think of a few who have managed to ride their bikes as they move into their 90's- one friend did his last century ride at age 90.

But let's face it our bodies change with age and no one is immortal. Our eyes, for one thing, change shape, the vitreous moves away from the retina, cataracts can form as well as glaucoma, macular degeneration there is a long list of ailments that affect our vision alone as we age. Not to mention hearing loss, dementia, Alzhiemer's, muscle weakness, nerve damages... The young may tend to reckless inexperience but their bodies are for the most part nimble enough to compensate.

It makes sense to me to pay close and careful attention to the capabilities of older drivers for their own safety and the safety of others. This does not preclude the need to closely scrutinize all drivers. But the topic of this thread is on older drivers.
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Old 06-20-13, 05:58 PM   #18
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Also, don't forget those who,while younger, are under the influence of ability reducing drugs. They are in the same situation. One person I met readily admits to taking therapeutic doses of morphine and then driving. It scares him and I suspect everyone else on the road. But,what realistic choice does he have? None.
Drugs are an interesting part of our nation's road safety problem. About 40% of all roadway fatalities involve intoxication and I would be surprised if the percentages aren't higher in the second-deadliest group of drivers (teens). However, motorists over age 70 are rarely involved in fatalities involving intoxication. They are thankfully the most sober group on the road. I say thankfully because their tendency to cause deaths on our roads on a per mile driven basis rises noticeably with age. In fact, by age 85 they are twice as deadly as those reckless teenagers with intersections being the most problematic location for them. It appears that they either don't see things they need to or they can't change their mental focus quickly enough to deal with the various directions.

I'm not sure there is much in the way of reliable data for intoxication by prescription. It stands to reason that it plays a much larger role with elderly motorists than it does with younger drivers, but it's not like we routinely test for prescription drugs when people are killed on our highways.
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Old 06-20-13, 06:02 PM   #19
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Mom yes...one conversation and she stopped. Dad no. It's a guy thing. I'm debating about visiting with the local gendarme to effect an outcome.
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Old 06-20-13, 06:09 PM   #20
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My parents are in their 50s now. I'm sure that when the time comes for them to stop driving, Google's self driving cars will be mainstream. So for those under 50, you most likely won't have to worry about giving up the car keys when the time comes, Google will drive you around. 20 years is a long time for technology to improve, and it improves at a faster rate.

Even now, the Google car has only been in one accident, and that was caused by a human driver rear ending it while the self driving car was stopped at a red light.
I am in my late 50s... I still drive, I bike and open ocean swim... 50 is not old, son. I hope they get the self driving stuff going however before I hit 70.
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Old 06-20-13, 06:14 PM   #21
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I worry about my 78yo dad. His mind is sharp enough but his reaction speed isn't any good and his strength is gone due to heart surgeries and shoulder injuries. He's installed a suicide knob on his steering wheel. Thankfully he doesn't take any major trips.
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Old 06-20-13, 06:15 PM   #22
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My dad only stopped driving after becoming so lost that mum filed a missing person's report.

He was found in another town.

The police and his doctor said 'no more' and my sister simply took his car away and it was sold.

The fact that he had dementia also helped a little. He wasn't going to fight the police.
There was an article in the newspaper last December about an elderly gentleman who drove across Redding, CA (just south of the Siskiyou Mountains in NorCal) to pick up his wife at the nursing home she lived at. After a few hours, the rest of the family got worried that they had not shown up for the holiday meal. The old couple were eventually found just south of Portland, OR on the side of the freeway. They had run out of gas. Apparently he started with a full tank since he was able to travel some 350 miles.
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Old 06-21-13, 02:30 AM   #23
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Drugs are an interesting part of our nation's road safety problem. About 40% of all roadway fatalities involve intoxication and I would be surprised if the percentages aren't higher in the second-deadliest group of drivers (teens). However, motorists over age 70 are rarely involved in fatalities involving intoxication. They are thankfully the most sober group on the road. I say thankfully because their tendency to cause deaths on our roads on a per mile driven basis rises noticeably with age. In fact, by age 85 they are twice as deadly as those reckless teenagers with intersections being the most problematic location for them. It appears that they either don't see things they need to or they can't change their mental focus quickly enough to deal with the various directions.

I'm not sure there is much in the way of reliable data for intoxication by prescription. It stands to reason that it plays a much larger role with elderly motorists than it does with younger drivers, but it's not like we routinely test for prescription drugs when people are killed on our highways.
We have some pretty good data that confirms what one would expect; as a population older drivers are more vulnerable to injury or death in a MVA. I don't think I have ever seen good data supporting the idea they cause more fatalities than other groups. Although there are many secondary articles that incorrectly present the data and its' conclusions.

In many states now impaired driving laws include impairment from all drugs, whether they be alcohol, illegal recreational drugs or prescription drugs. The criteria for a law enforcement stop and subsequent action is the same. Although ithe crime is still often referred to as drunk driving, in fact it is impaired driving.

As I posted earlier for most elders the issue is that they still have lives to live. They don't want to, nor should they be required to, merely hang out without a satisfying life just waiting to die. Want to get themoff the road? Provide viable alternatives.

Still, there is no doubt other demographic groups, including scofflaws are more dangerous.

As a byproduct of solving the elder's transportation problems we make it better for everyone.

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Old 06-21-13, 03:27 AM   #24
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There was an article in the newspaper last December about an elderly gentleman who drove across Redding, CA (just south of the Siskiyou Mountains in NorCal) to pick up his wife at the nursing home she lived at. After a few hours, the rest of the family got worried that they had not shown up for the holiday meal. The old couple were eventually found just south of Portland, OR on the side of the freeway. They had run out of gas. Apparently he started with a full tank since he was able to travel some 350 miles.
Dad had managed to refuel at some stage, but my brother-in-law was VERY worried when he got in the car to drive it home and saw the needle on E. He reckoned it was running on fumes when he hit a gas station.
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Old 06-21-13, 03:17 PM   #25
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Neither of my grandmothers ever held a driver's license, so no problems there.

I went for a ride with my paternal grandfather shortly before he quit driving- he'd lost the ability to modulate the brakes, so every time he used them (and he used them a lot), he locked the seatbelts up. Strangely enough, after they sold their car, my paternal grandparents always had money left over at the end of the month...

My maternal grandfather didn't quit until he got moved into a nursing home- right up until he lost the ability to speak, he wanted the Buick handy, and a scooter to drive to it. This was some time after he'd made an unsafe left turn at an intersection and got t-boned by, luckily, a much smaller car. Both cars were writeoffs, but he and my grandmother got away without injuries.

My dad is 65, and has had paying attention to his driving for years. He's never met a yellow light he didn't cruise through, often doesn't know how fast he's going (either 20 over or 20 under the limit), and never uses the turn signals (except if he's going around a curve). If it rains, he'll need someone to tell him to tell him to turn on the wipers, or better yet do it for him, because he prefers to squint and make faces through a wet windshield. My mom wants him to cut down on driving, but he still thinks he's an Above Average Driver(tm).
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