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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

A Stop Sign for the Elderly

September 20, 2003

Re "License to Deprive," Opinion, Sept. 14: Thank you, Frances Ring, for assuring me that I am not alone. You have helped restore the belief in my sense of safety, a quality I was always proud of until the Department of Motor Vehicles robbed me of it. The story behind the loss of my driver's license is similar to yours. I did it all, the lessons, the repeat road tests and the seemingly endless waiting to be judged. For seniors to be victimized as a group because one of us caused a tragic accident is blatantly unfair.

Age discrimination is, of course, illegal, so the DMV found a way around it. Regardless of a road test's outcome, all the DMV has to decide is that the driver's reaction time is too slow. I think a camera in a test car is a splendid idea but, no doubt, an excuse will be found to declare it unworkable. Obviously, rather than judge skill and alertness fairly, it is more expedient to keep all of us off the road.

Under the circumstances, a state program to provide transportation assistance to needy seniors is an absolute must. A permanent bus pass in this program should then be issued as soon as a senior's license is revoked.

Esther M. Levitt

Laguna Woods

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As a person in his late 60s, I can relate to Ring's loss of her driver's license. However, I am in the process of reducing my driving time, with the goal of no longer driving within the next year. I realize that, as a driver with over 50 years of experience, I am not as young as I once was and that my physical skills and my mental attitude have greatly changed when it comes to driving. I have checked out the local bus schedules, the local vans, walking and asking family members if they will drive me on occasion.

The main reason I am giving up driving is very simple: I can no longer handle the inconsiderate, lousy, thoughtless, stupid and overall bad drivers who are using and abusing our streets and highways. I do not need this aggravation every time I get into a car. I no longer enjoy driving. It is a total challenge of survival. Ring should just accept the fact that she is no longer able to handle driving, accept the change in her life and make alternative arrangements for transportation.

Stan Trinaystich

Monrovia

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Ring's plight must certainly send shivers up the spine of every driver over the age of 65. Although statistically Ring is less likely to have an accident than many younger drivers, one wonders whether in our society, which seeks a victim for every misfortune, the examiner may have been biased by concern for his or her job security if Ring did have an accident in the next 12 months. It is so much easier for the examiner to fail her and not have to worry.

Arthur Silk

Garden Grove

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Ring states that "the DMV thinks that seniors, especially women with white hair and visible wrinkles, should be put out to pasture." Male seniors are also being stripped of their driver's licenses. Three weeks ago, my license was revoked. For the flimsiest reasons, seniors are being asked to take a driving test that, I believe, is deliberately rigged to guarantee failure. Whether it's for a small traffic incident or a minor medical reason, the DMV pounces on seniors yet gives younger drivers carte blanche to continue driving.

Seniors such as myself, with over 50 years of accident-free driving, with years of good driving discounts, are being driven off the road. Yet teenagers with the worst accident records of any age group are permitted to retain their licenses. Every senior, every senior organization, every legislator has to band together to fight DMV prejudice against seniors in order to give us the same treatment accorded younger drivers. We are not to be treated like tottering fools.

Howard Mann

Los Angeles

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I have no reason to doubt Ring's driving expertise. However, all of us senior citizens have to face the fact that sooner or later we have to relinquish our driving privilege. We can do that in a graceful manner -- change our lifestyle, move to more convenient living quarters -- or we can blame the authorities for our plight.

Max Slegers

Lakewood

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