If you are blessed with a good relationship with your elderly parents, you may fear jeopardizing it by bringing up the issue of unsafe driving. While this can be a delicate situation, if one or both of your parents is genuinely not driving safely, your failure to take action may result in serious injuries or deaths of your parents or others.
One example of the worst-case scenario occurred in Colorado in July when an 81-year-old driver killed a 14-year-old and injured a 13-year-old, according to the Denver Post. Patricia Livingston faces criminal charges due to this accident, and she’s a suspect in an October hit-and-run incident. According to the police report from the October crash, family members told a detective that Livingston was “beginning to have issues driving” and they planned to hire a driver for her.
An older, incompetent driver may not want to stop driving because he or she has been driving for decades and sees personal transportation as a necessary way to get around. If the older driver is having health issues, driving may be the way he or she gets to frequent medical appointments, as well as running necessary errands. The loss of a car may be seen as a loss of freedom and independence and a reminder to the person that he or she is aging and struggling with diminishing physical and mental abilities.
Angela Cortez, spokeswoman for the Colorado office of the AARP, told the Post that children should get an early start on these difficult and emotional conversations because it’s best to talk before there are problems, such as a near-accidents or an actual accident with injuries. Finding alternate means of transportation is easier if there isn’t an emergency and when there’s not a sudden change from driving to not driving.
“Be positive and reassuring that you support safe driving for a lifetime. By making driving a safe topic, you may find it easier to bring the topic up in the future, should you need to discuss limiting or stopping driving,” Cortex suggests.
Another benefit to addressing the issue early is that instead of trying to stop a parent from driving completely, driving can be limited to times and places where it can be done most safely. This could mean not driving at night (often due to vision problems) or not driving long distances or at high speeds on highways (lessening the risk of a serious accident). As time goes by, alternate means of getting places can be used, eventually ending the need to drive a car.
New Jersey does not require older drivers to go through a different process or additional testing to renew or maintain a driver’s license, according to NJ.com. If you think a parent is an unsafe driver and he or she refuses to stop driving, you can start a medical review process which covers any illness or medical condition that could impair a person’s ability to safely drive, regardless of the person’s age. You can learn more about this process and how to file a report through this webpage.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident in New Jersey caused by a driver who should not have been driving because of age or a medical condition, schedule a free consultation with our office by calling us at (973) 358-6134 or by using our online quick connect form. Statutes of limitations apply, so contact us as soon as possible so you can learn about your legal rights and take action to protect your interests.