My father never was a great driver. He always rushed from one job site to another, focused more on work issues than traffic safety.
He lived and worked in a small town, however, so he rarely drove more than 10 minutes at a time. Besides a couple of fender-benders, he drove accident-free for 65 years.
But his last couple of years behind the wheel were frightening for his adult children, at least.
We watched him cling to his independence by refusing to surrender his car, even though he had to know his driving abilities were shaky at best. We feared for the public's safety and his.
My siblings swiped his keys several times, hoping he simply would give up searching for them. Dad always seemed to find a spare, or he'd demand they hand him back his property.
Convincing a successful self-made businessman that he was too feeble to drive to the corner market was hopeless. Family intervention strategies that worked so well on TV shows were no match for my dad.
So I turned to the Department of Motor Vehicles for help.
DMV comes to rescue
Californians rarely think of the DMV as a friend who can be counted on to keep a secret, but that's what it was for me.
I completed a DMV form essentially ratting out my dad, citing how his deteriorating health made him a dangerous driver.
I had to sign that form which I knew put me at risk of Dad's wrath but I asked that my name be kept confidential. The DMV honored my request and took action.
Within a couple of weeks, DMV officials contacted my dad and told him his ability to drive would be re-examined. Without even mentioning that someone had complained about him, it ordered him to come in for driving tests or turn in his license.
Dad hadn't taken a behind-the-wheel exam in decades, and he knew he wouldn't pass. So he never drove again, and he never knew I was the snitch.
Whistle-blowing is a good thing, and more of us should step up and do it when public safety is in jeopardy.
The DMV makes it easy to challenge the driving competency of senior citizens or people of any age, for that matter.
Just download the DS 699 "Request for Driver Reexamination" form and check the appropriate boxes describing the driver's medical condition and driving behavior.
You'll have to reveal your relationship to the driver, whether you're a relative, friend or someone else.
Last year, California's DMV re-examined 40,965 drivers, and it revoked driving privileges for 38,256 of them.
There are nearly 24 million licensed drivers in California, including about 671,000 who are more than 80 years old.
While teenage drivers are twice as likely to be in injury accidents as elderly drivers, odds are those teens' driving skills will improve as they get older.
That's not the case for our ailing parents and grandparents. It's time for many of them to hang up the car keys for good.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2196.