Starting the driving conversation

Driving can give people more freedom and control over their lives. Older drivers who are facing driving difficulties or safety concerns might worry about losing their independence.

Having driving conversations early allows you and the older adult to focus on avoiding problems and making things better.

Discussing the older adult's preferences and feelings about driving will help you work together, if there are concerns.

Before you talk with the older adult, ask yourself:

  • What are my specific concerns about the older adult's driving?

  • What have I seen or heard that makes me have these concerns?

  • What don't I know? What assumptions might I be making?

  • Am I trying to convince the older adult to do what I think is best? Am I open to other possibilities?

Set a small goal for your first conversation. Your goal could be finding out about the older adult's driving experiences, or learning whether the older adult has changed driving habits to stay safe.

Good ways to start driving conversations include sharing facts, asking the older adult about driving preferences, or mentioning friends' or family members' driving experiences.

For example:

  • "Many older adults avoid driving at night, because it's more difficult for them to see well in the dark. Do you feel comfortable driving at night?"

  • "Have any of your friends decided to drive less or stop driving? Is it working well for them?"

  • "Did you hear about that car accident on the news? Do you feel safe when you drive?"

Be honest about your reasons for wanting to discuss driving. Acknowledge that the older adult might have different opinions or information that you don't know.

Focus on understanding the older adult's point of view. Don't push to make decisions right away. Don't try to cover too much in your first conversation.

Try to end on a positive note. If you can, agree on next steps with the older adult, like having another conversation, going for a car ride together or looking into local transportation options.