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Driving Home Points About the Elderly

October 11, 1992

Re the "First Person" article by Jim Wright, "A DMV Policy that Endangers Us All" (Sept. 9): Wright states that his father failed a test to renew his license because of two near accidents during the 30-minute behind-the-wheel examination. The examiner explained the appeals process and suggested his father drive home and think about his options.

Wright's concern was that his father was allowed to drive away from the Department of Motor Vehicles after failing the test. Before his father received notice to turn in his license, he was involved in one more accident, which sent two people to the hospital.

Once a driver fails the driving test, the driver is informed of the results and told the options available under the appeals process. The examiner does not have the authority to suspend the person's license on the spot.

However, in extreme cases, the examiner has the option of contacting the Driver Safety Office for immediate action against the driver. In either instance, if the review results in a suspended or revoked license, a notice is immediately forwarded to the driver. Whenever the department takes such action the driver is entitled to a hearing.

With the population becoming increasingly older, experts have become more concerned about the adequacy of the standard driver licensing process and its ability to assure a driver's ability to drive safely and efficiently in today's road and highway environment.

It is projected, by the California Department of Finance, that in the year 2020 more than 6 million persons will be 65 or older and about 708,000 of these will be 85 or older. In a society which demands mobility, it can be expected that a substantial proportion of these persons will be licensed to drive.

In response to this issue, the Department of Motor Vehicles has assumed a leadership role in driver competency and recognizes the need to develop a licensing system designed to help people meet mobility needs as long as they can safely do so--a licensing system that recognizes the restricting or revoking driving privileges based solely on a person's age would be unduly biased.

The department is moving forward with a licensing system designed to meet our safety needs through specialized testing, more education and training, more stringent road tests, more comprehensive medical and vision screening and increased public awareness.

FRANK S. ZOLAN

Director

Department of Motor Vehicles

Sacramento

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