Am I liable if Grandpa crashes his car (again)

Cardy George

Piercing rural members since 1981
Back story is my Grandpa has just turned 90, is a fiercely proud, fiercely stubborn man, and lives 20km from Mildura, the main town in the region. The problem is his driving has been steadily declining over the last few years.

Started off by driving over garden beds.

Eighteen months ago he side swiped a car exiting a roundabout in his old Pajero and didn't realise. Should've lost his licence then, but didn't.

He downsized his car after that, but last Tuesday another motorist called the police after following him. She said he was all over the road, had smoke pouring out of the rear wheels from having the handbrake on for 20km at 80km/h, and then side swiped a car (again). He then proceeded to get tangled in the trolley bay metalwork of a Shopping Centre, which is where the police found him and took him off to hospital.

Uncle No. 1 called me to collect the car while he took Grandpa home. Uncle 1 and I decided together that the best way to keep Grandpa off the road is to take the car to my house, 15km the other side of Mildura.

Me, my wife, Uncle 1 AND Uncle 2 all agree the time has come for him to be off the road.

Except Uncle 2 has conveyed to us that Grandpa wants his car back. It's his after all and is not happy it's not in his possession. Uncle 2 is the only one who thinks it's OK to have the car in Grandpa's yard. The rest of us know how crafty and stubborn Grandpa is. There's no doubt in our minds if it's there, he'll drive it, licensed or not, but Uncle 2 is just is stubborn and says it needs to come back.

I don't want to give it back. Uncle 1 doesn't want him to have it back. I've only discussed it with Uncle 1 but we will buy the car ourselves to get him off the road. Morally I am 100% responsible if he causes someone an injury (or worse).

Question is, am I liable if I give it back and he crashes it again, when I know full well he's not competent enough to drive?
 

Mywifesirrational

I however am very normal. Trust me.
You are not legally responsible if shit goes south, ie, he drives through a school crossing and there are a couple of kids pinned or dead under his car. Morally, as you have highlighted can you live with that?

Do not let him get back into a car, as proud as he is, he is a danger to himself and everyone else on or near a road, or in there house besides the road, or a shop near the road...

YOu need to contact his GP to get his ability to drive medically assessed which also involves a practical assessment if the Dr deems it necessary.

Having worked in outpatient rehab at a hospital, we went through this process regularly.

https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/licences/health-and-driving/medical-conditions-and-driving/fitness-to-drive-faqs
11119 VICROADS_27_VRPIN00500_Medical_Review_Assessing_fitness_to_drive V3 _WEB
 

wkkie

Pedia
If you know grandpa's driving is getting worse and worse, and from the sound of things is likely to kill someone, then why let him drive?

Sure, you're not directly responsible, but could you handle it if he gets behind the wheel again and someone does die?

Country roads are high speed and little margin for error a lot of the time.

Sit him down with the family, have a big chat with him about it and explain why it's a really bad idea if he continues to drive.
 
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Miguel75

Likes Dirt
...SNIP...
He downsized his car after that, but last Tuesday another motorist called the police after following him. She said he was all over the road, had smoke pouring out of the rear wheels from having the handbrake on for 20km at 80km/h, and then side swiped a car (again). He then proceeded to get tangled in the trolley bay metalwork of a Shopping Centre, which is where the police found him and took him off to hospital... SNIP...
Have you spoken to the Police about it? I'd imagine if they found him as you described, there'd be no way he'd be able to keep his license.
 

wkkie

Pedia
YOu need to contact his GP to get his ability to drive medically assessed which also involves a practical assessment if the Dr deems it necessary.
Hopefully the attending police have already put in a licence review to Vic Roads. If not, call them up and double check.
 

hifiandmtb

Sphincter beanie
If you don't stop him, who will?

I organised to take my old man's license away - no regrets whatsoever. He had school parents report his behaviour to the police.

Driving is a privilege, not a right.
 

Mywifesirrational

I however am very normal. Trust me.
Hopefully the attending police have already put in a licence review to Vic Roads. If not, call them up and double check.
You'd hope they'd ensure that does happen. I have no idea why as I am not on the job, but it appears it often does not occur - bureaucracy maybe?

Also from experience, some old folk choose to ignore the Police or the GP's and continue to drive (uninsured at this point) until the car is written off or the family take measures.
 

Cardy George

Piercing rural members since 1981
Also from experience, some old folk choose to ignore the Police or the GP's and continue to drive (uninsured at this point) until the car is written off or the family take measures.
Which is exactly what we reckon will happen.

I could disable the car in his yard, but he knows enough people, and we reckon he's crafty enough to play dumb when he asks for help, and they'll help him.

The tension is coming from Uncle 2 not manning up and saying no you can't have it. Uncle 1 wants to keep the peace.

I honestly want to stay out and let his kids deal with it. But purely because I've got the key, it's me giving it back. Looks like I'm going to have to be the bad guy.

The police are involved, he's been taken in to make a statement, and it's highly likely he'll lose his licence. But these things take time.
 

Flow-Rider

Wheel size expert
It's a pretty sad time of life for old folk at this stage, I'd bring the car back and disable it really well. Even if you take the car off him he might buy another one anyway. Something like a mobility scooter might be more practical for him.
 

mark22

Likes Dirt
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99_FGT

Likes Bikes and Dirt
I'm with Mark, and was going to reference that exact situation. The old lady has been hit hard by it, and has been in hospital, and no doubt the family are asking questions about whether they should have done something.
Grandpa's situation is he knows that if he loses his licence (or car) means losing his independence. And is a short straw from not being able to live in his house 20km out of town.
He needs to know that there is a support network there for him, someone to take him and do his groceries, bingo, the pokies or to go play the slots ( if he's still got it in him ;-) ).
 

Dales Cannon

The Olden Dazed
Staff member
Tough decision but clearly one that has to be made. As others have said you arent liable, you are just returning his property. I would though disable the car and do it such that it is difficult and expensive to put back together.

Uncle2 needs a wake up call. Get grandpa to drive into uncles car in the safety of his own house!
 

Ultra Lord

Hurts. Requires Money. And is nerdy.
Uncle two needs to go for a drive with grandpa.
Grandpa driving. That’ll learn him!

Be the family arsehole man, don’t give granddad his keys. You won’t forgive yourself if he kills somebody.
 

LPG

Likes Dirt
Could you try and help organise some transport from a service for him while using the police, car repairs or something else as an excuse to try and get him used to using the service?

Not sure what services there may be. Even the rsl courtesy bus picking him up a few times a week on a a schedule that works. There may be some other services as well. If he thinks it is temporary he may be more receptive. 20km from town is a long way once you get to the age that driving is an issue.
 

ashes_mtb

Did something really really stupid
Which is exactly what we reckon will happen.

I could disable the car in his yard, but he knows enough people, and we reckon he's crafty enough to play dumb when he asks for help, and they'll help him.

The tension is coming from Uncle 2 not manning up and saying no you can't have it. Uncle 1 wants to keep the peace.

I honestly want to stay out and let his kids deal with it. But purely because I've got the key, it's me giving it back. Looks like I'm going to have to be the bad guy.

The police are involved, he's been taken in to make a statement, and it's highly likely he'll lose his licence. But these things take time.
Give the keys to Uncle 1.
 

rowdyflat

chez le médecin
From my experience as a doctor who examines people for illness v driving and as a son who had a car crashing father ,once they start it only gets worse and whether he agrees or not [ most old people have lost insight and just want to be independent ] you , police or relatives must take the keys and car away.
You are not legally liable . But when you state it in public eg social media that you knew it was dangerous you are a bit of an accessory esp if someone is seriously hurt.
 

yuley95

Likes Bikes and Dirt
Tough situation man. A few good suggestions in here but nothing will be easy.

The argument that it’s his property is a bit bullshit. Clearly he is no longer fit to drive so the car should be worth nothing to him. Tell uncle 2 you are willing to do all the legwork to fix and sell the car and can either buy a mobility scooter and hand over remaining money or set up an account with a taxi service and put the sale money in there.

I also think it’s worthwhile asking uncle 2 to lend his car if he thinks grandpa should have one. Might make him think a bit harder on the likely outcome of that.
 
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