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My elderly pal is a menace behind the wheel. Help!

July 23, 2013, at 9:00 AM

Dear Starshine,

I have an elderly friend who is not a safe driver. At all. She doesn't see pedestrians or cyclists, has told me she thinks she hit a car but decided not to stop, and has a suspicious missing side view mirror and a long deep scratch on the other side of her car. In the past two years, DMV employees have let her pass without actually taking the driving test because they felt bad for her and wanted to "give her a break." I often drive her to appointments, but I don't have time to do it all, so I arranged for a transportation service to drive her when I can't. (It's reasonably priced and she can comfortably pay for it.) But she feels her life would be over if she couldn't drive herself around. I told the DMV my concern and they suggested I contact their driving safety department to report her anonymously, but I feel I'd be stabbing her in the back. She'd never talk to me again if she found out. (I'm not a good liar.) And who will watch out for her if she shuts me out? I've tried to talk with her about it rationally, but she refuses to give up her right to drive. She's not married, has no children, and has no family that visits. It comes down to her not wanting to let go of her freedom. What should I do?

First of all, kind lady, will you be my friend? Your level of compassion and concern for this woman is beyond the call of comrade, and she's incredibly lucky to have such a benevolent buddy.

Now rat the old lady out before she kills someone.

Seriously. If she insisted that the only way to preserve her autonomy and dignity were to fire a machine gun from her front porch every day, would we be having this conversation?

The broad's a menace and she's going to lose her license very soon in one of two ways: Someone who cares deeply about her well-being is going to report her to the DMV, or she's going to kill an innocent person with the lethal weapon parked in her driveway.

Look, you didn't make her old. Or stubborn. Or incompetent behind the wheel. But here's the crazy-unfair part: Now you're involved. And if she keeps driving and hurts someone — or herself — you'll be partly responsible. (Let that be a warning to any readers who are considering befriending lonely old ladies.)

If you don't have the stomach or the poker face to do it yourself, then have someone you know report her. Hell, give me her name and I'll do it. And while we're at it, let's report the government employees who are putting our lives at risk by issuing free passes to grandmotherly types.

You can't take away your friend's fear of the inevitable Next Stage. What you can do is be there for her when she finally hangs up her car keys. Schlep her to the market from time to time, invite her out to a movie, or just listen to her rage or cry about the sincere, inevitable bitch that aging is.

Meanwhile, let's all wear our seatbelts, shall we?

Send me your dilemmas via email: ToughLove@TheWeek.com. And follow me on Twitter: @ToughLoveAdvice.

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