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  • December 6, 2023



    We all dread it.

    This is the year I had to get my driver license renewed, and that doesn’t make me happy. It means a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles, a long wait to be called to a window – even if I have an appointment – and being curtly ordered around by and a bunch of harried bureaucratic talking heads.

    It’s not as though all DMV folks are rude. I’m sure many of them are very nice, but their job is to process endless paperwork and to move things along as quickly as possible in order to get to the next cranky person in line. As in every office where it’s almost impossible to get fired, there are a few DMV staffers who take their frustrations or prejudices out on whomever they decide is worthy of their contempt – usually the person standing on the other side of the plexiglass window from them.

    The bottom line is that nobody looks forward to going to the DMV for anything.

    The problem for me is compounded by the fact that the state of California has decided that anybody more than 70 years old needs to be checked a little more carefully than others. I understand it, but being a 70-plus person, I also resent it. I know from experience that many people much younger than 70 have age-related, anger-related, or drug-related driving problems, and many people older than that do not.

    In the State of California, there is now a special test for people older than 70, and it is creating some concern for older drivers.

    To be fair, the DMV is offering sample quizzes that older drivers can use to practice up for the test. But, because it is the DMV, the sample quizzes have little to do with the actual test that is required of older drivers. I’ve heard this from several friends, and I’ve even seen a couple stories crop up in online news stories.

    The “Knowledge Test” required of folks 70 and up, is drawn up by a bunch of political apparatchiks who lay down arbitrary rules about such minutia as how many feet before you turn should you signal your intent. The real answer, of course, is that it depends. If you are driving at 25 miles-per-hour through a residential neighborhood, it’s one thing. If you are getting ready to exit a freeway at 70 miles-per-hour with a monster truck hot on your bumper, it’s quite another.

    So the real rule of the road – the one real drivers should employ – is use your common sense and err on the side of safety. But it’s hard to put that in a test.

    Yes, everybody hates going to the DMV, but if you live in California and you want to legally drive a car and have insurance cover you for the unexpected, you have little choice but to dance to their tune.

    At least that’s what I thought.