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Wednesday, Jan 31, 2007

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 • California Government        • California         • Discuss California

 

Senior driver program unfair

By Sandy H. Straus

The Tribune

Regarding The Tribune Jan. 21 article, "When is it time to give up the keys?" by Bob Cuddy:

The usefulness and functionality of the three-tier pilot program under consideration in the state of California are questionable. The program appears to single out older drivers and those with potential or existing physical disabilities. It also seems to favor additional labor, time, and, ultimately, longer lines at Department of Motor Vehicle offices.

In fact, drivers of all ages require frequent screening of vision, cognition, and knowledge skills tests that can only be achieved through automation.

Eye charts are static and nonautomated. Real-world vision tests are defined by the ability of drivers to see both moving and non-moving objects.

Any wall chart or mechanical test, nonetheless, has severe limitations, especially when fully automated dynamic visual acuity tests are now available. Additionally, a neuromotor or neuropsychologic disorder, which may result in shaking and other physical difficulties, may not imply driving inability or impairment.

Importantly, DMV counter staffs are not medically qualified to make these determinations from observations and manual screenings. Furthermore, in contrast to the second tier proposals currently under consideration, a silhouette of a car or a truck is an inadequate and seemingly insensitive way of screening driver knowledge, "rules of the road," or even cognition or dementia. Faster, economical, and fully autonomous cognitive screening tests, such as computerized clock drawing tests, the Automatic Clock Drawing Tests (TM), now exist. We therefore urge the state of California to consider the impacts of safety of all drivers. The state needs to tick the boxes on implementing an automated driver’s license test system. This is, according to designs and recent government publications I authored, the safest and most cost-effective way to weed out at-risk drivers of all ages. It is also the quickest and most objective way to start saving lives, preventing injuries, and determining when it is time to give up the keys.


Sandy H. Straus is president and senior engineer of ESRA Consulting Corporation in Florida.

 

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