A situation has come to a head that is causing me more lost sleep and even more hair loss. It’s a red button topic for those on both sides of the issue but is literally a matter of life and death. Road safety. I will welcome any and all views on this.
I have an elderly father in law who is quite frail and insists on driving. He’s not safe on the road and to be honest wasn’t safe on the road twenty years ago either. He refuses to stop driving and any attempt to speak reason to him is met with “No no no, that’s nonsense.” or just stonewalling. To be clear, this isn’t about age. It’s about actual fitness to drive. My mum has another 5 years on him and is accident free and never had a point off her license. Whereas my father in law has a long history of accidents and mentally has slowed down significantly.
Yesterday, he crashed a rental car into another vehicle carrying a mother and her child outside the local police station. Both cars were a write off but by some miracle no one was injured. He was released without charge at 2am. Normally, it would be the last straw for any insurance company but as it was a rental car, and he bought the insurance option, it doesn’t touch his own insurance. The reason he was driving a rental? Because a week ago he crashed his own car.
Some other factors:
Has no respect for red lights.
A few years ago when he reached the age for mandatory retesting, he paid a younger employee to take the test for him.
Has a history of attempting to drive away from minor accidents like smashing into other cars in parking lots. A few years back he crashed into and totalled a row of bikes outside a restaurant. He had the nerve to then walk in and eat there and tell us to be quiet but I said I was going to get up and make an announcement in a very vulgar way unless he did the right thing and did so more diplomatically and paid for the damage.
I’ve tried to lead by example. We live in a city that has public transport but further reaches absolutely require a car. I worked out several years ago that unless you are putting serious miles on the car every day, a taxi or uber is cheaper. People are shocked by our weekly taxi bill and think we’re crazy to not drive but when I crack the squared paper and show them the cost of their Lexus (which they replace every 10 years or less) plus MOT, servicing, two legally mandated tire changes a year (snow and regular), servicing and petrol/charging and tot that up for a decade and divide it by 520 weeks, our taxi led lifestyle is far (far far) cheaper. But this argument doesn’t hold water with him. People who don’t have cars are “weirdos”. So I am unable to appeal to him with an economic, or road safety argument.
It’s only a matter of time before this ends in fatalities. To him, we have absolutely no right to infringe on his rights to drive and potentially murder people on the road.
I’d turn his fake test into the police except they’re all corrupt round these parts. I’m more likely to land myself in hot water for doing that than him.
FZ, i feel your issues having been in a similar situation. It was cut short by my father having a stroke that immediately cancelled his license, he died 18 months later.
Can i ask your location, roughly of course? I am sure an accident in any other car will affect his own, and not notifying them of that will invalidate said insurance. I’m checking with my son who is a UK insurance assessor. Difficult situation you have there, hope something can be worked out
I can empathise. My late Father was diagnosed with dementia in early 2020 but prior to that it was clear he wasn’t able to drive safely, he took me out one day he was straddling lanes, not signalling and when other drivers hooted they were idiots. Eventually I’m afraid we deceived him, we told him my Brother’s car was no longer usable and he had to borrow Dad’s car. This didn’t go down well but it solved the problem. I tried to reason with him “look Dad you’ve driven without incident for 65 years don’t ruin it now” but it didn’t work.
Eventually the dementia set in and he was taken into a care home.
Martin is correct; if your FiL has an accident, regardless of whether he was driving their own vehicle, or someone elses, or whether he felt it was not his fault, it’s a material fact and underwriters would require knowledge of such material facts when deciding whether to insure him and on what terms. Trying to hide such material facts from underwriters usually invalidates the insurance contract, which, in the event of being discovered after an accident, could turn out to be ruinously expensive in the long run and mean that there will be reluctance or even refusal to insure him in future.
I had a similar problem with my mother but she was nothing like as dangerous and she was meek. You or your wife must get this sorted out. You probably remember Hungry Halibut/Nigel - he was knocked of his bike a few years ago by an aged driver who couldn’t see properly and that resulted in life changing injuries. Are you in the UK? - driving licences here have to be renewed every three years after 70 and you should have your doctor’s approval to continue driving - see link below. I was able to take my mother, who had dementia and get the doctor to tell her she couldn’t drive any more. Otherwise maybe you will have to take drastic action and report him to the police. Or perhaps someone he crashes into could do the same and you or your wife could then act as witnesses. I have no idea but could you and your wife be in legal jeopardy if you don’t take action. Good luck.
Worst case, as you identify, it exposes a person to civil proceedings legal recourse, as their insurance shield is void – as well as, I would imagine, criminal prosecution for what would be uncovered e.g. the provenance around why they were signed-off to drive in the first place.
Not easy but you do need him to stop driving before someone gets injured or dies. I have had friends in similar situations where parent would not listen to them and they found it helpful to involve the GP - parent did listen to their doctor. Failing that you could inform DVLA ( or whatever Japanese equivalent is). V difficult but you are entirely correct in that something needs to happen
Sadly we’re in Japan and some things can be skirted around. For example he crashed outside the police station. But it all went away because the police turn a blind eye to some things. The police themselves are largely made up of senior age officers who sympathise. Elderly driver mishaps and organised crime are their two blind spots.
In Japan the police act as the DVLA. They issue licenses and do the tests. But the similarly aged officers let him off scot free even acknowledging it as his sole fault. Makes me feel helpless.
His area of town is where the local mob live so our biggest fear is he gets in an accident with one of them. That could suddenly get quite dangerous for us.
So suspect a solution might not be procedure based. I’m close to telling him he’ll never see a grandchild for the rest of his life until he ditches the license. But he’s stubborn and will just carry on.
I’m not sure if there’s really anything you can do, he obviously doesn’t care or listen to reason. Guess all you can do is refuse to get in the car with him and continue to reason with him. From what you’ve posted it sounds like it won’t be long until he does something even more serious and has to face the consequences.
In Aus once you get to a certain age or have a medical condition you have to take a test every year also re his crash yesterday he’d have to own up to that to his own insurance company to renew it.
Glad his not driving anywhere around here though our country roads are dangerous enough already.
He and his son have a habit of getting in wrecks and then funding the full repair out of pocket to avoid contacting insurance companies or losing points on their impeccable licenses. They’ve had motorway write offs they’ve miraculously gotten towed away without any authority being the wiser. But if they kill someone, the guilt will stick with me forever.
Honestly, if it was a sitation in the UK where I wasn’t a foreigner, I might have punched his lights out by now.
On one side we have the police who willfully turned a blind eye. On the other are his doctors but he actually works in healthcare and has had doctors cover for his mistakes before so that’s out.
I’ll have to get creative. I like the idea of disabling his car once it comes back from the garage but I doubt I’d know how to get into his garage. Plus his lexus is worse than Kit from Night Rider. Anything odd and it starts talking to you or Lexus Support call his phone.
Ah… Only went there once, on a skiing trip. Great Beer…!!
Crikey, this is close to home. My own (ex) Father in Law (who lived in Kyoto) mirrored this, but to a much lesser extent. Just a series of minor bumps and bangs, to his Merc. Nothing like you describe. He was a former Doctor.
Public Transport is very good in/around Kyoto, so not much need for driving, really. Less of a problem.
Could a change of car help. To something smaller, maybe…? Or will pride not permit. Silly question.
Pride probably gets in the way. But he’d be a menace in a smaller car. Might even be worse. I suspect the brains in his Lexus is all that keeps on the road most of the time.
We tried to get him to downsize and live near us but he insists on living alone in his 5 bedroom home (that only ever had 2 people live in it). Self made man that came from nothing (started working as a mushroom sorter) and has a lot of pride in that.
Already there. About 5 years ago, I made him pull over in the middle of nowhere. Got out with my daughter and wife and called a taxi. Just one run red light after another that day and I snapped. Never been in his car since.