My family has tried several tactics to have my mother’s driver’s license pulled; however, the authorities we have dealt with don’t seem to want to deal with her. She is 75 years old, has health issues which cause her to pass out sometimes, and has had several incidents in her car. She also has a heart condition that her heart only works at 30%. On top of that she has no peripheral vision, is stone deaf, and won’t wear her hearing aids. She lives in another area right now, but is soon moving to our town. We have two small children, and I DO NOT want her driving here. What can I do?? Her Doctor has said, and I quote “I am not going to be the bad guy”.
Someone is going to get killed or seriously hurt, and nobody cares.
Our lives tend to revolve around easy access to transportation and we are often unable to give it up on our own. Ultimately it is up to ourselves, but if we don’t realize the risk and stop driving, someone has to step forward and get the job done. This is a very tough decision to make if watching my own family cope with it was any indication.
Health professionals do have a legal duty to report a driver to the Superintendent if they caution their patients to stop driving and the person does not. However, I have been told by seniors that doctors are very reluctant to do this for fear of losing patient rapport. This would prevent the doctor from being able to treat them properly afterward because the driver would not tell the full truth about their health problems.
The police will report a driver to the Superintendent and recommend follow up if they notice obvious problems. The difficulty is that officers are not trained to recognize problems and they can manifest themselves as the same driving behaviours that you and I exhibit when we don’t pay proper attention to the driving task or deliberately disobey the rules.
So, it comes down to family and friends becoming involved. Contact the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles and identify your concerns. The Superintendent will take action to insure that the driver is safe to continue driving, but is unlikely to accept your advice anonymously. You will have to identify yourself.
What if you don’t want to become involved because it is Mom or Dad? It’s up to you to decide which is worse, coping with the memory that you could have prevented a tragedy or living with the fallout from having taken preventive action.
Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.