How To Stop Elderly Parents From Driving

If you’re wondering how to stop elderly parents from driving, you can get help from your local DMV, your parents’ doctors, or the rest of your family. Seniors are often reluctant to give up driving, but you can help them transition by keeping them involved in family activities, figuring out public transportation, and developing new hobbies that don’t require driving.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about auto insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and ...

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

UPDATED: Jan 31, 2022

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Can't-Miss Facts

  • Everyone’s ability to drive may worsen with age, but the age at which seniors should stop driving depends on the driver
  • Children of senior parents can get help from doctors or the DMV if they suspect their parents should no longer be on the road
  • You can help your parents transition to not driving by giving them a ride whenever possible, keeping them involved in family functions, and helping them develop new hobbies that don’t require driving

Unfortunately, our ability to drive safely decreases as we age – it’s one of the chief reasons car insurance rates for older people increase.

As children with aging parents, keeping seniors safe on the road can be frustrating. However, it’s important to recognize when an elderly loved one is no longer safe behind the wheel of a car.

Having that conversation is difficult and likely embarrassing for the older person, but necessary for their safety and the safety of other drivers.

If your parents aren’t a danger on the road, you can still have a conversation with them about ways to save on auto insurance. Seniors typically pay more, but you can help them save.

If you’re wondering how to stop elderly parents from driving, but they’re not quite at the point where they should stop, compare insurance rates to help them save money. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to see what rates might look like.

Signs That an Elderly Parent Should not Drive

Before you confront your parent about their driving, you should be as sure as you can that they are unfit to drive.

First, you should understand the age-related changes that affect their ability to drive:

  • Pain or stiffness in the neck or shoulders make it more challenging to see other cars or pedestrians
  • Vision, hearing, and reflexes decrease
  • Loss of strength makes it harder to steer
  • Leg pain and weakness make it hard to use gas and brake pedals
  • Slower reactions
  • Multi-tasking ability decreases

These changes happen to everyone but at different rates. There is no one age that a senior should stop driving, and some seniors never reach that point.

If you’re unsure when an elderly parent should stop driving, look for the following signs.

  • They have trouble seeing: You can’t drive well if you can’t see well. If your parent has been diagnosed with glaucoma, macular degeneration, or cataracts, they won’t be able to see well enough to drive safely.
  • Their car has new damage: Give your parent’s car a once-over for new scratches, dents, and dings. If you see signs that your parent has been driving into things such as garage walls, mailboxes, or bushes, it might be time that they stop driving.
  • Driving stresses them out: As their ability to drive deteriorates, driving will become more stressful. If your parent is getting lost in familiar places, mixing up gas and brake pedals, or experiencing road rage more often, they might not be fit to drive.
  • They no longer want to drive at night: Not every driver is comfortable at night, but this can be a sign if your parent suddenly avoids it.
  • Other driving habits change: When a parent no longer drives as carefully as they used to, they might be heading toward an accident. This includes rolling through stop signs or not looking when they change lanes.
  • They have near-accidents: If you hear (or they tell you) about almost getting into accidents with increased frequency, they should stop driving before it’s too late.
  • People don’t want to drive with them: If no one is willing to be a passenger, it’s a sign that their driving isn’t what it was.

If your parent displays multiple signs, it’s time to talk with them about their continued presence on the road. Most seniors resist the idea of giving up driving, but you can save them by being firm.

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Tips to Stop an Elderly Driver

Don’t feel guilty when you think it’s time to stop an elderly driver. Losing mobility and freedom is hard for everyone, even if it’s drastically apparent that they shouldn’t be driving. They might get angry at you or try to guilt-trip you.

Keep in mind that you are there to prevent costly and dangerous accidents. Stay calm and know that you’re doing the right thing, even if your parent resists.

First, you should start with a conversation. Sit your parent down and speak honestly with them. If you’re worried about their response, see if another family member will do it with you. When someone hears information about their driving from multiple sources, they’re more likely to accept it.

If conversations aren’t working, try the following steps.

Report a Driver to the DMV

Wondering how to report an elderly driver to the DMV? Most DMVs allow you to report a driver anonymously so you can keep your parent safe without them getting mad at you.

Each state has a different set of steps for reporting a driver as unsafe. Usually, the DMV will call the driver and temporarily suspend their license. The driver will have to take a driver’s test to regain the use of their license.

If the idea of reporting your parent to the DMV makes you uncomfortable, can a doctor stop an elderly person from driving? The answer is – sort of. They might not be able to report directly to the DMV, but they can probably provide you with a letter suggesting that the senior is no longer fit to drive.

Take the Car Away

If you remove the car from the equation, the senior can’t drive. Be creative. Ask another relative to “borrow” the car, or just take away the senior’s car keys.

There are some problems with this solution. For one, if the senior still has their license, you technically have no legal leg to stand on. You can be reported for theft if you withhold your parent’s car, even if you suspect that they shouldn’t be driving.

Be Ready With Alternative Modes of Transportation

Many seniors think that giving up their car means giving up their freedom. That doesn’t necessarily have to be true. Try to give your parent an alternative to driving themselves around, and they might be more willing to stop.

Alternative transportations can include:

  • Public transit
  • Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services
  • Senior care centers often offer rides as part of their services
  • Rides from family members

You can also help them develop activities that don’t require driving, such as volunteer opportunities, projects around their home, or senior citizen groups.

How to Help Your Parent Stop Driving

No matter how necessary it is that someone stops driving, the loss of independence can be devastating. Losing the privilege to drive is a common cause of senior depression.

However, you can help your parent adjust to life without a car in the following ways:

  • Check in on them often: Losing your freedom to drive can leave a parent feeling isolated. Try to physically visit them as often as you can and chat with them on the phone at least once a week.
  • Encourage the bus: If you can, help your parents take the bus. They might be uncomfortable trying it alone, but your assistance could help.
  • Give them a lift: If your parent has errands to run, doctor’s appointments, or just wants to do something fun, give them a ride when you can. As a bonus, spend a little quality time with them.
  • Develop new hobbies: Seniors need hobbies and activities to keep their minds active, just like everyone else. Encourage them to take up an interest they can do from home and participate with them when you can.
  • Include them in family events: Help them get to holiday events, graduations, weddings, and other family activities.

As long as seniors aren’t left alone, giving up their car won’t feel so terrible. You can always use this life event as a way to reconnect with your parents and spend more time with them. If you have kids of your own, you can encourage them to get to know their grandparents.

Find the Best Insurance for Elderly Drivers

If you’re concerned about your parents on the road and wondering how to legally stop someone from driving, there are plenty of options at your disposal. From reporting them to the DMV to getting help from a doctor, you’re not alone.

If your parents are still good to drive, you can help them enjoy their time behind the wheel for as long as possible by helping them save money on their insurance. Insurance companies charge higher rates for seniors, but every provider treats them differently.

If you don’t need to know how to stop elderly parents from driving yet, and you want to help them save money, comparing insurance rates is the best place to start. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to see what quotes might look like for your elderly parents.

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