Ask a Trooper: Concerns about diminished driving skills
Question: What can be done about an aging family member when their driving skills become diminished and it becomes a safety concern? Answer: Older drivers in general are safe. As we age the risks behind the wheel increase with the possibility of ...
Question: What can be done about an aging family member when their driving skills become diminished and it becomes a safety concern?
Answer: Older drivers in general are safe. As we age the risks behind the wheel increase with the possibility of declining cognitive, vision and physical abilities.
Older drivers are more likely to get killed or injured because they are more likely to be physically fragile and less able to recover from injuries. One out of every five traffic fatalities in Minnesota is a person age 65 or older.
There are a number of options that can be pursued.
As a family member, try to pay close attention to older family members' driving skills. Start the discussion of when to stop driving, and determine other transportation options. Age alone cannot be considered a good cause for re-examination.
This can be a sensitive issue for many older drivers. Older drivers forced to stop driving may feel a lack of freedom, anger and may suffer from depression.
Actions to take if concerned about an older family member's driving:
• Write and sign a letter to the Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services (DPS-DVS) outlining specific concerns.
• DVS will contact the person and ask them to come in for an interview.
• Based on the interview, the person can be requested to conduct a written and road test, submit a vision report, and/or submit a doctor's statement verifying that they are physically qualified to drive within 30 days of the interview.
• If no concerns arise during the interview or if the driver passes a road quiz and appears to be physically fine, they may not be required to do anything further to continue to drive.
• If the person does not submit the requested statements or their vision/physical report is unsatisfactory, their driver's license can be cancelled.
• If the person is unable to pass the tests within the required time, their driver's license is cancelled.
• Talk to a family member's physician to see if the doctor has noticed the same problems. If so, ask the doctor to submit a request for a written/road test to DVS. If the physician sees the person is not physically qualified to drive, the doctor can notify the department and DVS can cancel the driver's privileges.
Law enforcement officers can also send a request for review to DVS if they identify a driver who they believe should either re-test or be checked by a doctor. In the end, DVS can allow the person to keep driving with increased limitations such as roadway speed, daylight only, certain times of the day or within a set limit of miles from his or her home. They can also require follow-up doctor's exams.
Don't be afraid to speak up if you are concerned about a loved one's driving behavior. It could end up saving their life or another life on the road.
If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol, 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN, 55811; on Twitter @MSPPIO_NE; or by email at email@example.com .