Your older family members want to keep driving as long as they can. And that’s understandable, because it gives them a feeling of independence, the freedom to go wherever they want. All the same, there comes a time when carrying on driving wouldn’t be responsible. And as a carer you must step in and have a word. But be prepared, because this will be as unpleasant for you as it’s painful for anyone who’s got to stop driving. But it’s essential for the safety not just of your family member but for everyone else too.
How old is too old to drive?
In Belgium there’s no official maximum age for driving, just a minimum age of 18. That’s different from the Netherlands, for example, where drivers 75 or over must get a medical certificate every five years.
It’s possible though that if your relative has a physical or mental condition that makes them unable to cope with traffic any more, then the CARA (Driver and vehicle licensing centre) will determine if he or she may still drive.
But you yourself can tell if it’s time for your parents or grandparents to leave the car in the garage.
10 things that should set alarm bells ringing. If Mum or Dad
- Causes a lot of “near-misses”
- Puts dents and scratches in the car–or the garden fence or the garage door or runs into the kerb…
- Gets lost occasionally, even in familiar surroundings
- Doesn’t know what road signs mean and road markings, or doesn’t see traffic lights
- Doesn’t cope well with unexpected situations; for example by not braking in time
- Has trouble judging distances at corners, crossings and on motorway slip-roads
- Causes dangerous situations where other road users sound their horns or start shouting
- Has difficulty concentrating on the road and is easily distracted.
- Forgets to use the mirrors and has difficulty turning round.
- Receives an excessive amount of fines for traffic violations.
Does one or more of the above apply to a member of your family? Then it would be sensible to get their driving skills re-tested. As a rule of thumb, ask yourself this: “Do I feel safe sitting in the passenger seat next to Mum or Dad––or any loved one?”
Why a driving skills refresher course can help
Before a driving ban takes final effect you can first opt for a driving skills refresher course. A visit to your doctor might even be enough to solve some problem that’s been having a negative effect on your driving. Things like problems with concentration, for example, or minor physical things. But always be careful; certain medicines can have a detrimental effect on driving ability.
What to do if a loved one is unable to drive anymore
Is there really nothing for it but to surrender that driving licence? Then try to reassure your family member as strongly as possible that he or she isn’t going to lose his or her freedom. Suggest alternatives, like a bus pass, or car-sharing with friends and family.
Is a physical problem restricting the mobility of someone you love? Then why not think about a Stannah stairlift? A stairlift from Stannah gives back to your parents, or your grandparents their freedom of movement. All our models are made to measure and our advisors are always happy to work with you in any situation.