How to know when your parents may not want to drive anymore?

   / How to know when your parents may not want to drive anymore? #1  


Super Member
Feb 15, 2005
Mid north west in the state of N.C
Dad is pushing 90, last month his back has been hurting and I'm taking him in for a MRI and xray and then drop that info off at the doctors.

Thing is, I've noticed within the last couple of months, his driving skills aren't what they use to be.

I'm curious to the experiences of others here at what point did your parents finally decide that driving may be too much for them?

He drove me up to pick up my one car today, and to be frank, I had to kind of hollar to him to stop because he was hanging a left at a stop sign at a "T" (rural road, road at the stop sign had a hard curve left coming around on your right side) because he didn't see a car coming on his right side. Then driving up to down, he kind of got off the road a little to the right in the gravel.

Like I said, could be the pain as he has been hurting for a couple of weeks, but I'm starting to think that we may be approaching a time for a talk. The added fact is he has stopped driving at night all together now.
   / How to know when your parents may not want to drive anymore? #2  
My dad still driving good at 96, soon to be 97. I rode with him recently to check, and no problems. He doesn't go far, couple miles into town.
   / How to know when your parents may not want to drive anymore? #3  
"Not Want Too" That never seems to be the problem. My Mom has had numerous accidents and done all kinds of damage to her car otherwise. Her life would be severely impacted by taking away her car. But she "they" never care about how they may impact someone eles life.
   / How to know when your parents may not want to drive anymore? #4  
I think it's an individual decision. My dad drove until he was 93. There was definitely a reduction in his driving skills, but he just did short trips to familiar destinations in the last few years. On one hand, there was certainly an increased risk that he could make a mistake and injure himself or someone else. On the other hand, I'd say he was overall a safer driver in his 90s than I was in my teens. Life involves risks no matter what. It becomes a personal balancing act.
   / How to know when your parents may not want to drive anymore? #5  
My dad, who drove truck for a living for many years, was still driving at 90. I followed him a few times and he was doing fine and driving safely. But then he started getting dementia and got lost a couple of times, not far away, and would stop and ask directions. Three times the people would get my number and call me, and I'd go guide him home.
After that I took all the keys to the car and truck. He got hopping mad but eventually got over it. I told him when he wanted to go somewhere to call me, as I only lived 1/2 mile away, and I would pick him up.

A little off topic, but later when we put him in assisted living for a couple of months, the director of the facility called me and said he was missing. On a hunch, I went to Dad's house, we hadn't sold it yet, and he was there, setting on the couch. He said he had gotten a ride home from a friend. He didn't remember who it was though. To this day we have never found out who took him to the house, though it had to be someone that knew where he lived.
   / How to know when your parents may not want to drive anymore?
  • Thread Starter
Thanks for the feedback.

Reality is, when my dad was 83, he was complaining he'll never do 32 holes in one day (when he went with his buddies to SC in Feb to golf). He could drive 480 miles to visit us as bacj then anytime he wanted to come down) Thing is, he fractured his back when he was around 86 trying to lift his wheelhorse mower with a 2x4 to change a tire, and it seems that has kind of been his downfall in age. Ultimately, that accident has kind of been a blessing as it made him realize he should finally move in with us (he being in Pa and us in NC).

Offtopic still, when my in laws were in their 60's, we kind of always thought my MIL would go first with her life long medical issues. FIL was a power lineman for 30 years, strong as an ox. FIL got some heart issues, and passed away this past January at 76. Go figure.

Right now, my dad only drives west (up to the Blue Ridge mountains with my one son who drives back) or into our town to shop, and stays out of the "city" (east) with a population of 200k as the roads can be too much for him to remember. It's just one of those life changing events that I'm seeing before my eyes, and sooner or later (hopefully later) if we can figure out what's causing his pain) it may become time for him to hang up the keys.
   / How to know when your parents may not want to drive anymore? #7  
It's a tough thing to watch. It's even harder to have to make the decision for them if they won't do it themselves. My father in-law was driving up until about age 89-90. Anytime they'd go anywhere, his wife would drive (she's 13 years younger than him). About the only places he'd drive himself were down to the Legion or McDonald's. Well, she drove more and more, and he drove less and less. Then one day he just said he didn't think he should be driving anymore. They didn't take his license or keys or car. He just stopped. That was a blessing. He passed away a few months ago from a combination of weak heart and dementia. Good guy. Saved us from having to make the decision for him.
   / How to know when your parents may not want to drive anymore? #8  
Had to stop my grandfather, late 70s, from driving due to mini strokes and dementia. He was ok with it surprisingly.
My grandmother, 80s, was a different story. Called me one day to have a look at her car. Seems it made a noise as she was driving into the garage. The noise was her clipping the corner post and the wall. I just pulled the fuel pump fuse and told her it was tore up. When I had the talk with her she wasnt so good with it but relented.
While following my great aunt, 80s, home, after jump starting her car, I would have sworn she was drunk. Took her keys and wanted to take her to the doctor. Big fight. Next day took her to the doctor and found out she had brain lesions from stage 4 lung cancer.
They are all gone now. Its not easy sometimes but they knew it was the right thing to do.
Dad sold his motorhome last year because it was a bit much for him to handle. He is in his 80s. He drives his car excellent though.
   / How to know when your parents may not want to drive anymore?
  • Thread Starter
He yer dad and sure enough by now you know how ta ease into subject wid him. Worst case, leave glovebox open so light kill battery few times. Den you kin go wid Dad might just be easier me to drive you den keep jumpin ya and havin me to worry bout car gonna start when you ready to come back.
Luckily our two 16 year olds need their driving hours for their license, so he's been basically having the one boy drive most of the time so he can get his 50 or so hours in. The other boy doesn't listen as well, and well, my dad can be the typical grumpy old man so he doesn't drive with him LOL

He cut out his night time driving on his own, and he's not going out as much any more, so I'm hoping he will decide when it's the right time for himself.
   / How to know when your parents may not want to drive anymore? #10  
Keep this in mind... If you know that his driving skills are not good anymore, and you let him drive, and he is in an accident, a good lawyer will sue you for knowingly allowing him to drive and causing an accident.

Whoever has the best lawyer will win a case such as this.