- How often is the person driving? Where? Why?
- Have there been incidences of getting lost or not arriving?
- Have there been accidents or near misses? (Check car frequently if possible for new marks or dents)
- Is there a vision problem that can be corrected with glasses?
- Are the driving problems related to illness?
- Would a change in medication help?
- Would you feel safe as a passenger in the car?
- Would you feel safe as a pedestrian knowing this person is on the road?
- Would you feel safe as another driver on the same highway?
- Should someone always be in the car with the driver? Is this a viable option?
- Is it just a matter of time before the person has a serious accident?
- Is public transit or a transportation service available? If so, does the person have mental
or physical impairments that would prevent them from using public transit?
- Can family members or friends take turns driving the person to regular activities?
- Is there someone who can help you discuss your concerns with the driver?
- Would the driver acknowledge or be able to understand that there is a problem?
- Is it time to take away the car keys? While safety should be the primary concern, this is a serious step
to take. Be prepared if the person is upset.
Steps to Take
- When addressing this potentially difficult situtation, remember that losing your driver's license
can be a potentially devastating experience
- Try to involve the person in question as much as possible, unless the person refuses to recognize
that there is a problem and it would be counterproductive to do so
- Seek a professional driving evaluation
- Advise the family physician of your concerns and ask for a medical assessment
- physical exam
- eye exam
- cognitive assessment, if Alzheimer Disease or other dementia is suspected
- Find out if DriveABLE is available
locally and arrange for testing.
- is a two-part test specifically designed to measure driving competency of people with cognitive impairment
- includes a 40-minute touch screen computer test of
- peripheral vision
- includes a road test in a dual-brake car for people who pass the computer test
- can provide scientifically-based proof that someone should give up his license
- accepts referral from licensing authorities, physicians, insurance Companies and individuals
- costs $250 for the computer test; $75 for the road test
- is considered a medical expense for income tax purposes
- is in use in Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia
If the person should discontinue driving:
- find out whether family members and friends will be able to drive the person to regular activities and
- investigate alternative transportation arrangements such as public transit, taxis and transportation services
- discuss the situation with the driver in a non-threatening environment
- offer alternatives
- have someone the driver trusts ask him to hand over his license
- hide the car keys, modify the car so that it cannot be driven, or remove it from sight, if necessary
- report the driver to the authorities, if you have no other option
- ask the family doctor to send a letter to the licensing authorities
- contact the auto insurance company and explain the situation
Note: Physicians who report patients are immune from prosecution.
All Canadian provinces and territories with the exception
of Quebec, Alberta and Nova Scotia require physicians
to report medically unfit drivers to the licensing authority.
If the person with driving difficulties is permitted to continue driving:
- suggest that they avoid heavy traffic, unfamiliar routes, long drives, night-time driving, highway driving,
driving heavy vehicles and motorcycles and driving alone
- encourage the driver to take a driver retraining course
- keep monitoring the situation, so that you are aware of any changes
Encourage older drivers to have their eyes tested yearly
and wear their prescription glasses when driving
License renewal requirements for senior drivers vary by
province/territory. Find out the renewal and retesting requirements
for the appropriate province.
At-home Coping Strategies
- Be cautious when discussing the driving issue with a person
whose illness may cause aggressive behaviour. Have a family member,
health professional, police officer, or a trusted person, such
as family friend or clergy present, if you have concerns the discussion
might upset the person.
- Help the person understand that the illness is at fault, not
- Let them know that they or someone else could be injured.
- Compare the cost of owning and maintaining a car with the cost
of using alternative transportation.
- Help the former driver remain independent by suggesting viable
- Have the news come from a third party a letter from the
family physician, a letter from the insurance company advising
that they will no longer insure them.
- Respect the person's right to drive, if he can still drive safely
and has a valid licence.