How to delicately tell your parent they should no longer drive

Running red lights, stop signs or driving too slow are among red flags


ORLANDO, Fla. – Patricia Fulton keeps a close eye on her 92-year-old dad; he is his same ole feisty self but forgetful when it comes to his driving skills.

[WEB EXTRA: Mature drivers]

"I actually had him follow me somewhere and watched him run a stop sign," Fulton said. "It was very dangerous for him to be on the road."

She didn't want to take her dad's independence but feared for his safety and others on the road. Fulton said she wanted to avoid a tragedy like the recent ones making news headlines.

Just last month, an 85-year-old driver tried to back up and didn't see two women behind her, hitting them both. 

Local 6 visited one victim who showed her bruises from the accident, and says she is slowly recovering.

Earlier this month a 78-year-old New Smyrna Beach woman accidentally drove into a medical building hitting several people, killing one man.

"We tend to react differently as we get older, if something goes wrong instead of taking a breath and getting composure we panic and continue to hit the gas thinking their foot is on the break," Kim Montes of Florida Highway Patrol said.

That's a red flag, says Brenda Magnetta of AAA.

"Normally we drive with our heel just moving back and forth if they're lifting the leg up it might be that they are kind of confused on which pedal to choose," she said.

More red flags:

  • Running red lights and stop signs
  • Straddling--not staying in a proper lane
  • Driving too slow
  • Getting lost or confused in familiar areas.

In Central Florida there are a little more than 80,000 drivers between the age of 80-89 years old on the road and just over 9,000 drivers who are 90 years old or older.

According to FHP, this age group was involved in more than 1,500 accidents in 2012 and over 1,600 crashes in 2013. That equals about 3 percent of the crashes in both 2012 and 2013.

So while statistics show more mature drivers are safer on the roads tragedies still occur far too often.

So when do you know when it's time to turn in your license?

"There is no age limit it just depends on your physical and mental capabilities of where you are within yourself," Magnetta said.

Florida law only requires drivers to get their eyes checked every 6 years once you turn 80 years old, making your loved one have a watchful eye.

If you are concerned about a family member you can report a driver confidentially on Florida's department of highway safety website if valid, they will be re-examined by a professional.

That's what Fulton did.

"He was vehement, 'they need to come ride with me. And they'll know I can drive and I don't understand why they are doing this,'" she said.

Fulton said she does have mixed emotions, but knows it's the right thing in her dad's case.

"I think if you know in your heart and your gut that they shouldn't be on the road as hard as it is you don't want to get that phone call, you don't want to get that phone call," Fulton said.