Getting a license to drive is one of the first rites of passage into adulthood. Teenagers with a license and access to a vehicle experience their first real taste of freedom at the wheel. They can go where they want, and they have to learn to respect the laws about driving and their household rules. They also learn about the deadly responsibilities that come with having a license and will develop a healthy respect for this dangerous but daily activity.
For many older adults, keeping a license may become more important than their safety or the safety of other people. They want to maintain their right to drive even when they are at significantly increased risk of causing a wreck. It is quite common for those with declining cognitive function and reduced physical capabilities to still insist that they should have the right to drive.
At some point, those with longer reaction times and diminished cognitive function pose a risk not only to themselves but to everyone else on the road. If your parent has made it clear that they will not voluntarily get up their license, can you take any steps to protect your family and the public from the risk of your family member causing a crash?
The Arizona Department of Transportation (DOT) understands how emotional licensing issues can be. The organization also recognizes that family members often don’t have the authority to stop someone from driving unless they have grounds to go to court and seek a guardianship. People can be unsafe drivers even while they are capable of managing their own households, which results in a serious gap in oversight.
You can make a relatively anonymous report by downloading a form from the DOT website. When you fill out a Driver Condition/Behavior Report form, you can notify the state about their physical, mental and visual issues that prevent them from driving safely.
You must have their full identifying information, including their driver’s license number, to submit the form. The DOT can then investigate the situation and can take action, ranging from re-testing a driver to rescinding their license. The DOT will take these steps without notifying your family member that you drew attention to their safety at the wheel, which can help you preserve your relationship.
Understanding how to protect aging loved ones from their risk of causing major car crashes can ease your mind about their well-being and about your family’s liability if they do cause a wreck.