Worrying about your close one’s driving health is cause for intervention

Publication date 10.10.2022 10.38
News item

Many people in Finland are worried about the driving health of someone close to them. According to a survey made by the Finnish Road Safety Council (Liikenneturva), as many as 30% of the respondents had concerns about the safe driving of someone nearby. This concern should not be dismissed.

– Many health changes start to have a gradual impact on the person’s driving ability. Sometimes the driver does not notice the changes in their driving health. This underlines the role of the people close to them. For example, a family member or other person close to the driver may be the first to notice problems in traffic or small dents in the car, Planning Officer Mia Nyholm of the Finnish Road Safety Council points out.

If you are worried about the driving health of someone nearby, the Police and the Finnish Road Safety Council encourage you to take the topic up with the driver in question. An intervention may even prevent later, larger accidents and damages.

The Police and the Finnish Road Safety Council have collaborated on a video accessible in Police YouTube at: https://youtu.be/j83pMAmQCGs (In Finnish)

Obligation to intervene is recognised

Among the respondents of the survey, nine out of ten recognise their responsibility to intervene if they notice that there is a problem in the driving health of a close one.

However, less than half of them know where they should turn to if they become worried about the driving health of someone near them. The Police and the Finnish Road Safety Council aim to bring clarity to this. 

 – If you notice that a person close to you has difficulties in coping with the traffic, brought about by a health problem, please take the matter up with them. You might start the discussion by asking whether they have themselves noticed any changes or problems in their driving ability, Senior Inspector Henna Salmi of the Permit Service Administration at the National Police Board suggests.

Many might hesitate to take up the issue if they think the person involved might get cross. If one’s future ability to move and, for example, going shopping depends on other people’s help, this might also be cause them to worry. 

 – What is key is that drivers who are no longer safe – for themselves or for others – no longer drive, Henna Salmi sums up the situation. 

Taking the issue up can lead to a doctor’s appointment or another solution. If talking does not lead to anything, you can perhaps contact a doctor attending to the person in question or talk to another party responsible for their care. 

The doctor cannot disclose information about the driver’s health without the interested person’s consent but can listen to the observations of the close ones. Often, the family members’ observations are found to be useful for the assessment of driving health. Patient organisations also provide instructions and support. Contacting the local police is always one option. The contact details are available at poliisi.fi.

Driving health is not an age issue

Driving health is affected by diseases, trauma and other similar factors that impact the person’s driving ability.

Diseases and their treatment, such as medication and therapeutic balance also affect driving health, and so does non-treatment. 

A change in driving health can take place suddenly or over a longer period of time, and the impact on the safety of driving can be temporary or permanent.

The focus in driving health issues is on the aged. However, driving health concerns people in all ages because a young person can also fall ill in a way to affect their driving health. Middle-aged people become increasingly prone to various types of health issues and attacks. The impacts of chronic diseases staring at an early age must also be followed from the driving health point of view.

In December 2021, the Finnish Road Safety Council made a survey on the driving health attitudes of those between 15 and 79 years of age. The survey was implemented by Kantar TNS Oy and the number of respondents was 1064, 82% of whom (895) were car drivers.

Read more about this topic on the police website:

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