When your grown kids doubt your driving skills

By Mac McLean / The Bulletin / @agingbeat

Published Jan 25, 2013 at 04:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

Editor’s Note: Good Question is a recurring feature in which a local expert in a particular field answers a question related to families. Have a question? Send it to family@bendbulletin.com.

Q: My adult children are worried about my driving abilities because I’m getting older. They think it’s time to take away my keys. How can I convince them it’s still safe for me to be behind the wheel?

A: Tom Drynan, 75, often encounters this situation as a zone coordinator for AARP’s Driver Safety Program. He has been helping seniors brush up on their driving skills for the past 11 years and currently supervises every AARP driver safety program on this side of the Cascades.

He said demonstration is often the best way an older driver can convince their children it’s still safe for them to stay behind the wheel. The driver should have an open and honest conversation about their children’s concerns and, if possible, show them these concerns are unfounded.

Identifying these concerns is important because it allows the older driver to negotiate when they should and shouldn’t drive, Drynan said.

“Sometimes it’s a matter of realizing you shouldn’t drive at night,” Drynan said. People who can’t see very well in the dark or have problems with oncoming headlights might able to agree to only drive during the day, he added.

The same is true for people who have problems driving at high speeds, when their reaction time is crucial. To ease their children’s concerns, these drivers could keep their keys if they promised to stay off the highways and limited their driving to just their town or their neighborhood.

“Figure out what type of situation worries them and come to an agreement with that person about what it’s safe to do,” he said.

But this process can be very hard to do, Drynan said. He recommends that people who are worried about their driving abilities take a safe driver course. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/driversafety.