Senior Driving Top Tips: Keeping an Unsafe Driver Off the Road


The forum is filled with people coming together to share valuable information. We’ve compiled experienced caregivers’ best tips for preventing a loved one from getting behind the wheel.

How to Keep a Senior from Driving

“I told my husband that, with the medicine he was taking, he could not drive. Once he was off the meds, he could drive again. I also told him the car was in the shop and that it needed gas. I told him all sorts of things to keep his mind off of ‘his’ car. I think not driving is harder for a man than it is for a woman (boy is that a sexist comment). In the end, it does symbolize the loss of freedom that we all want and need.” –Grandma1954

“Some states can help you get an unsafe driver off the road, but some states make it almost impossible to report an elder for bad driving. My state is a self-reporting state. Doctors are not required to report patients who should not be driving, and my state also cannot guarantee anonymity when reporting elderly unsafe drivers. Now with online license renewals, dangerous drivers remain on the road longer. My state does mandate that those age 75 and over renew in person at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, but only for a vision test. Check with your loved one’s state to see if they can help you with this issue.” –Labs4me

“My friend began hiding the car keys, but her husband kept finding them and driving. Fortunately, she had enough money to get rid of the car and get another one that looked completely different. She put the keys on a totally different kind of key ring. He didn’t recognize the new keys or car, so he stopped driving because ‘he couldn’t find the car.’ ” –MaryKathleen

“We borrowed Mom’s car and never brought it back. Dementia patients often just do not know how impaired and dangerous they are on the road.” –pamstegma

“It may be simplest to take away the keys. You can also use a rod to lock the steering wheel. If you remove the car, I would let the police know so that your loved one doesn’t report car theft. Removing the car would probably be best, since it will take away the temptation to hop in and drive away.” –JessieBelle

“There are some ways of disabling the car. You can loosen one of the battery cables at the BODY side or install a battery turn-off switch if it won’t wreak havoc on the computer. A more sophisticated way is to have a battery cable where the ground has two wires (tiny & large) and have a battery disconnect on the large wire. The thin wire will support enough power flow for the computer, but ‘mysteriously’ won’t support enough power flow for the starter. The distributor cap is another easy-to-pull item.” –horserider

“In some states, you can anonymously contact the department that handles driver licensing and ask for a review of your loved one’s driving capability. If it’s determined that their ability is compromised, the DMV can suspend their license. There’s another less painful and humiliating way that isn’t as public. If you know who your loved one’s insurance carrier is, you could contact them and ask if they can intervene. If the insurance carrier believes their driving is a risk, they’ll step in and resolve the issue.” –GardenArtist

“My mother-in-law’s primary care physician told her that, if he found out she was driving, he would report her to the Pennsylvania DMV and contact the local police. My husband told her that since he was POA, he could be sued up the wazoo for her actions if she had an accident, which would financially endanger him, me and her grandchildren. Not to mention, where would that leave her? Older people have a great respect for authority, and these scare tactics worked. When she agreed we were right, my husband promptly sold her car.” –alizee

“I hid my mom’s keys, but she found them and tried to bite me when I tried to take them back again. I called my brother and he disconnected the battery cable and distributor cap until she had her appointment at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. We obtained two doctor’s statements stating she should not be driving and sent them to the state. They finally summoned her to take a written test and a driving test, both of which she failed.” –LME

“While my elderly friend was napping, we took his keys and replaced them with other keys to whatever. He didn’t seem upset that he could sit in his vehicle but not start it. After I offered to take him to his appointments and go to the park every weekend for lunch, he decided I was his taxi driver and did not want to drive anymore. ‘There’s too many crazy drivers out there!’ he would tell me.” –shellybelly

“When my mom’s car broke down, I told her it was too old to get replacement parts. Since she could not afford a new car and payments, this ‘lie’ worked. At first she complained that she did not have a car, but eventually she forgot about it.” –frazzled1951

“Some time ago my dad was on lithium for depression, so he was a little off at times. My mother periodically found him in the driver’s seat of the car when she couldn’t find him in the house. Fortunately, she removed all of the car keys from his key ring. Keeping a key ring and other keys provided dad with comfort, while removing the car keys provided mom with comfort.” –momhouseme

Ashley Huntsberry-Lett

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Ashley is responsible for the planning and creation of’s award-winning content. As a teenager, she assisted in caring for her step-father during his three-year battle with colon cancer. Now, through her work at, she strives to inform and empower the caregivers who devote so much to helping and healing the ones they love.

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