Tips for Concerned Citizens
- Immediate danger: If you feel an older driver is at risk of crashing or doing harm to others, you can call the police and give the dispatcher details of the immediate situation. The police cannot arrest or detain the driver if he has done nothing wrong, or if the impairment is not alcohol or drug related. If he or she is clearly impaired, the police officer will try to convince him/her not to drive or arrange for him to be transported to a medical facility for examination. The police can file a request for the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to retest the driver or they can issue a summons for a traffic infraction.
- It is a good idea to occasionally ride with an older driver to observe their driving skills first hand.
- If you have concerns, talk to the older driver. It is sometimes awkward to do this, but most people appreciate a direct approach from a caring friend or family member. Don't be condescending or disrespectful.
- A simple solution to driving difficulties may be to limit driving to daylight hours, familiar roads, or times of day when traffic is light.
- Consider that the driving difficulties may be related to medication, a short-term emotional disturbance, such as stress or grief, or an acute medical illness.
- Encourage the older driver to talk with his/her physician about driving. Does he need a new eyeglass prescription? Perhaps an evaluation by a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist would reveal needs that can be corrected with minor adjustments or adaptive equipment.
- Suggest a driver improvement class, such as 55 Alive, to sharpen driving skills.
- If attempts to discourage an older driver from driving are unsuccessful, anyone can complete a "letter of concern" or a DS7 form from the DMV (PDF) and submit it to the Department of Motor Vehicles. This form must be signed and notarized. The form goes to the Driver Improvement Bureau of the DMV. For more information on this process, contact the DMV at 607-664-2029 or the Caregiver Resource Center of the Steuben County Office for the Aging at 607-664-2298.
- Remember that when an older driver stops driving, there must be a plan in place for their continued mobility. To no longer drive is a big adjustment! To smooth the transition, you can help by offering rides or making connections with others that can help with transportation. Steuben Coordinated Transportation is a good starting point for assistance. Call them at 607-776-9467 or 800-346-2211.