How To Talk To Elderly Family Members About Surrendering Their Driver’s License

Dec 21, 2018, 9:02 PM | Updated: Jan 3, 2019, 8:58 pm

LEHI, Utah — The holidays often allow many to spend time with their parents and senior family members. It might also provide an opportunity to have a difficult conversation about when someone should surrender their driver’s license.

Israel Ramos, 96, has been driving since he was 17 years old. He was a truck and taxi driver in Uruguay.

“So definitely, he knew how to drive,” explained Cristina Pitts, Ramos’ daughter. But a few years ago, she started to worry about his driving.

“He just couldn’t see the distance,” she described.

Cristina Pitts visits with her father, Israel Ramos, who no longer has his driver’s license.

Pitts said he wasn’t stopping the car at the right time and loved to run yellow lights.

“Or he will get mad if someone stopped and didn’t run the yellow light,” she added.

“We were just getting concerned,” Pitts explained.

Cristina Pitts was worried about the safety of her father and his wife, who was still driving at age 92.

She considered the safety of her father and her 94-year-old mother, Maria Ramos, who always accompanied her husband in the car, as well as the safety of other drivers on the road.

“We started to investigate ways to tell him,” Pitts said. She even tried to disable his car so it wouldn’t turn on, which didn’t faze her father. “Right away, (he) figured out what was missing,” she said.

One day, Ramos became disoriented while he was driving. He said he was trying to figure out how to make a U-turn and pulled off in an unsafe place. An officer saw his car and approached him. Ramos said the policeman requested his keys and took his license away.

Cristina Pitts visits her parents at their assisted living facility every day since they can no longer drive.

Ramos was devastated to lose his license, especially since he has been driving his entire life.

“That’s the only thing I have done in my life,” he said, with the help of a translator.

Pitts said they went six times to the DMV for her father to take the driver’s test again, but he couldn’t pass. The test was even more complicated now because Utah now requires everyone to take the test in English, rather than Spanish, which is his native language.

Ramos was terribly frustrated, but his daughter said she was relieved.

“It was a blessing in disguise,” Pitts said.

In her mind, she thought, “This is great. I don’t have to be the mean guy.”
Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Zach Whitney said the safety of others on the road is at risk.

“If we can save a life by having a difficult conversation, it’s a conversation worth having,” he said.

“If family member or friend is concerned about a driver who may unsafe, they can submit an Unsafe Driver Review through the Utah Department of Public Safety for further evaluation and testing. After review, the driver the driver may be given restricted driving privileges if they can meet the minimum requirements, or may have their license revoked.”

Whitney encourages families to suggest alternative means of transportation for their aging parents, such as ride sharing apps or public transportation.

Cristina Pitts jokes that the only thing her father is driving today is his walker.

Today, Pitts jokes that Ramos has a new set of wheels: his walker, which is the only thing he drives now. He said he feels bad relying on his kids for transportation, but his kids said they’ll do anything to keep him around longer.

“Safety first,” Pitts stated.

She encourages other families to be kind to their parents when having a similar conversation and to look at it from the parent’s point of view.

“I think that conversation has to be looking at where they’re coming from. You have to know they were independent. They were the drivers… so go easy. Be understanding,” Pitts said.

Cristina Pitts shows her mother, Maria Ramos, some photos on her phone.

Pitts also said she tries to find new ways to help her parents feel independent at this stage of their life, like allowing them to have control of what happens inside their home.

“They’re the ones who make the decisions in this house,” she said.

Whitney also noted it’s important not only to have a conversation about safety with people who are aging, but also with anyone who may be driving impaired, drowsy, distracted, aggressive or unbuckled.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Road to Zero

Tamara Vaifanua

SLC Police conduct crosswalk safety enforcement after several auto-pedestrian crashes

Salt Lake City police conducted a crosswalk safety enforcement Thursday morning. It comes as at least half a dozen people have been hit by cars — and a 31-year-old man lost his life this past week.
8 days ago
[File] Utah Highway Patrol State Trooper car (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)...
Madison Swenson

Utah troopers stop more than 3,500 vehicles for speeding in first 2 weeks of 2023

UHP said troopers stopped more than 10,000 vehicles in the state during the first two weeks of the new year, with 3,567 of those being for speeding violations.
8 days ago
A pedestrian crosses the street...
Katija Stjepovic

Salt Lake City community group demands measures to protect pedestrians

The community-based group Sweet Streets demanded Utah leaders take action to slow and prevent the number of injured and killed pedestrians.
10 days ago
(Utah Highway Patrol)...
Jed Boal

Number of 100 mph speeders cited in Utah nearly doubles in four years

Utah drivers admit to speeding over 100 mph more than any other drivers, according to a recent national survey — a statistic that is not surprising to UHP.
15 days ago
[File] Utah Highway Patrol State Trooper car (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)...
Karah Brackin

Traffic deaths declined slightly in 2022, most were men

On Thursday, UDOT and the Department of Public Safety released the preliminary 2022 traffic fatality numbers. Preliminary reports showed there were 320 lives lost on Utah roads from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2022.
22 days ago
child safety seat...
Katija Stjepovic

Using child safety seats the correct way

As Utahns pick up the normal routine of heading back to work and taking the kids to school, the Utah Department of Public Safety reminded parents how to make sure kids are buckled up safely in cars.
23 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
How To Talk To Elderly Family Members About Surrendering Their Driver’s License