Dangerous drivers: How do you talk to someone about their bad driving?

Bad drivers

Being responsible for your own driving is one thing, but what about someone else’s? If you’re concerned about someone’s driving, how do you bring it up? Or should you even bring it up?

Should I talk to someone about their driving?

Are you truly concerned a person is a danger to themselves and others on the road? If so, then it’s time to have a tough talk. Even thinking about bringing up someone’s driving habits can make you feel awkward and out of place. You might assume the conversation should be had with a professional, like a doctor. But what if others aren’t aware? You need to speak up, to prevent someone from getting hurt, or even killed. The awkwardness of a tough conversation will pass with time, but the effects of an accident, could last forever.

So what constitutes as unsafe driving?

We all know someone who makes us feel uncomfortable when they’re behind the wheel. They may drive too fast or cut corners too closely. But does this mean they’re unsafe?
Every driver on the road faces some risk, but when people pick up bad habits, the odds of something going wrong, significantly increases. Things get more risky for the driver, but also for everyone else too. Remember, your safety is affected completely by other drivers… you’re only as safe as the worst driver on the road. What a scary thought! That’s why we need to keep each other safe, and speak up when something doesn’t feel right.

Could it be a medical condition making someone unsafe?

As we talked about before, a medical condition can absolutely affect someone’s ability to drive safely. If you’re concerned a medical condition may be affecting someone’s driving but you’re feeling reluctant to bring it up, what about talking to the person’s doctor? Or maybe a family member or employer? Together you can make a plan on how to approach the person. They need to know! This person will need support and a plan to help them. This could mean defensive driving lessons or changes to medication. If it’s time for them to stop driving, reaching out to others and professionals will ultimately help support the driver.

I’ve tried to bring up someone’s driving, but they won’t listen. What do I do?

So you’re genuinely concerned about someone’s driving and they’ve dismissed your thoughts? Driving is often a symbol of independence and freedom. Being criticized about your driving abilities can feel threatening and put someone on the defensive. Give them time. Let what you said sink in and make sure they have access to resources, if they do decide to seek help.

But if you’re genuinely concerned and the bad driving behaviour persists, it may be time to take things to the next step. In every jurisdiction there is a government body responsible for the safety of drivers on the road. Usually, you can independently and confidentially report your concerns about someone’s ability to drive safely. It might feel like you’re going behind their back, but ultimately you’re making sure they, and others, stay safe.

Honestly, I’m concerned about my driving! What can I do?

Most new drivers take courses through a certified driving instructor, that’s how they learn. But courses can also be extremely helpful in refreshing your driving abilities and you may even get some new tips! Road behaviours change over the years, no doubt your driving should adapt too. An experienced driving instructor can help:

  • Distinguish between bad habits and errors that mean something else is going on
  • Improve driving skills to overcome the impact of aging
  • Correct bad habits
  • Identify people who should not be driving anymore

Your reason for using a driving instructor could be completely different than someone else’s… and that’s the beauty of a one on one course! You can work on exactly what applies to you.

If it’s a medical issue you’re concerned about, talk to your doctor. There’s no sense in trying to deal with something on your own, get help!

Talking about driving can be extremely difficult and evoke very strong feelings, but a bad driver is in no one’s best interest. We all have a responsibility to keep the roads as safe as possible. You can do your best every time you hop in the car to be a good driver, but it is also your responsibility to have the tough conversations with friends or family. Decisions about driving need to be made in a supportive environment. So if you’re going to have the tough conversation, go in prepared and think hard about what you’re going to say beforehand.

Comments

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This is great advice and important. But it is very hard to follow. So many people think they are the best drivers (including myself!) and don't take any criticism lightly! But I will now pay more attention to what others are saying to me and speak up if I think someone else is dangerous.

This is so important. If we ignore someone's dangerous driving then they could end up injuring or even killing someone. Everyone who uses the road is responsible to try to keep it as safe as possible - even if it means criticizing someone. Probably need a course in how to do this!

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