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Behind-the-Wheel

We want dad to stop driving, but how do we do that?

Helping older drivers

"My father is 87 and has had a minor accident. My sibling and I would like to see him give up his license and keep him safe, not to mention others. He won't give it up freely. We don't want to be disinherited either. Who do we contact or what do we do without him knowing? I have tried the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles offie, but it was no help as it wants a report."

You are right to be concerned. RoadSafetyBC suggests that we are living about 10 years past our ability to drive safely.

In 2021, there were about 249,000 licensed drivers in B.C. who were aged 76 or older. In 2019, RoadSafetyBC referred 4,800 drivers of all ages to ICBC for the Enhanced Road Assessment and 1,150 of them did not respond Another 200 surrendered their licences and of the 3,450 drivers who were tested, 860 failed.

If you don't feel safe riding with your father, it's probably time to intervene.

You may wish to make your first stop at the CAA Quebec website and their publication titled How to Help an Older Driver With Safe Transportation. It's a PDF document about 4.5 Mb in size that discusses preparation for the eventual surrender of a parent's drivers license. There's lots to think about in it.

You may be surprised to find that it is not time. My neighbour is in her 80s and her daughter was after her to stop driving. She decided on her own to go to one of our local driving schools and have her skills assessed.

The driving instructor told her that she was still driving safely and should keep her license. That gave her an unbiased second opinion to present to her daughter and hopefully put the daughter's mind at ease.

Yes, RoadSafetyBC requires a formal report of a driving situation where the person complaining is identifiable. If you think about that for a moment, you can easily understand why.

If someone who is either misguided or malicious were to report you as unfit, should anonymous complaints be accepted? You could be subject to the expenditure of time and money to show you are, in fact, fit to continue driving.

RoadSafetyBC's website advises that under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, a driver can ask for a copy of their file, which will contain a copy of the report. RoadSafetyBC will consult with the author of an unsolicited report before providing the driver the file.

It is an awkward situation for a son or daughter to be in.

Ultimately, it is up to you to try and decide the point where you can no longer live with the risk knowing that you failed to act and your father hurt himself or someone else through the operation of his vehicle.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.



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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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