We encourage people to speak to family members or a doctor about any concerns. Family members or friends can also be proactive in encouraging drivers to seek advice about the impact their medical condition or disability may have on their driving.
Here are some tips to help you bring up the conversation:
Know when to have the conversation.
Ask yourself: Do you feel comfortable letting the person drive you or your loved ones somewhere? The answer may be a signal that it’s time to start the conversation.
If possible, go with the driver to see their doctor.
A medical appointment can be a good opportunity to raise issues about their ability to drive and receive advice from an unbiased perspective. A doctor can then help with the planning and management of the condition in relation to their driving. The conversation around driving can take time, so try to organise a special appointment dedicated to the discussion.
Ask for support.
Talk to the driver’s friends or family to see if they share your concerns. You could also rehearse the discussion you plan on having with the driver so you can be better prepared to handle their reaction. Depending on the circumstances, you may want one or more of the person’s supports to participate in having the conversation with you and the driver.
Be compassionate and empathetic.
You don’t want to make the driver feel like ‘everyone is ganging up on them,’ so be sure to frame the conversation with patience and care. Carefully choose the right time to bring up the subject. Remember to remain calm and supportive and try not to let your anxiety or fear escalate into a heated or accusatory conversation.
Discuss specifics but avoid blame.
Explain why you’re worried about someone’s driving in a casual, observational way. Try not to accuse the driver of doing the wrong thing. You might phrase these observations in the following way:
- “I noticed you didn’t see that stop sign.”
- “I felt you didn’t leave enough time for the car to pass.”
- “You seemed unsure about where the supermarket was.”
Be prepared for resistance and anger.
Driving represents independence to many people. When they think you might be taking away their ability to get around, they may become defensive or agitated. If this is the case, it might be best to end the conversation and revisit it at a later stage when they’ve had the opportunity to cool off and digest the information.
Ask for the drivers’ opinion.
It’s very possible that if you’ve noticed problems, he or she may have too. Make time to ask the driver how they feel about their driving ability and confidence behind the wheel.
Appeal to the driver's sense of responsibility.
If the medical professionals and the occupational therapy driving assessor agree that it’s time for the person to stop driving, appeal to the driver’s sense of responsibility. Remind them that continuing to drive not only poses a risk to their safety, but the safety of others on the road.