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Dent In The Ego

Failed the old person's driving test. I really didn't,  but that's what the examiner said. Actually, I passed easily - but was marked down because of a difference of opinion involving the interpretation of the test by the driving examiner.

Because I am old (79) and have minor short term memory loss,  a slight cognitive impairment, and a hint that I may have the beginnings of Parkinson's Disease,  my doctor recommended that I take this special test to affirm to the DMV that I am capable of driving a car.  All of this is true and I welcomed the opportunity to take any driving test required to confirm that none of these age or health factors interfere with my driving skills.

The fact is that I drive carefully, know the laws (passed the last regular written test with only one error),  and drive exceptionally well. In  my  reasonable judgement I drive better than my wife, daughters, grand daughters, and almost all of my "over 65" friend's.

Also in my favor (but not considered) I've not received one driving violation ticket in approximately 40 years, and the one accident I was involved with about 10 years ago was caused by another car running into my car which was stopped at a stoplight. The other car was completely at fault.

At this point let me make clear that the Costa Mesa DMV and the driving instructor handled my application and test courteously and efficiently. I have no complaint regarding either.

My complaint involves only the written drivers test and how it is interpreted.

  • The examiner and I  turned right as we exited the DMV driveway. The examiner told me to "turn left at the next intersection". I said "nineteenth street" and the examiner said "no, the next intersection".  I did so without a problem and we went forward with the test. For what it's worth, the next "intersection" was  "nineteenth street".but he marked me down by one point because he had to "cue" me.  Now, that's just not true.
  • I was directed to "pull up to a curb and stop, then back up a couple of car lengths and stay about the same distance from the curb".   As I have always done, I looked over my right fender at the curb as I retreated. Unfortunately I drove a little closer to the curb. I stopped going backwards and said to the examiner that "I was getting too close and would go forward a few feet and then resume my backward motion."   The examiner told me to "use my right side view mirror to watch the curb as I backed up".  My car (SUV) is relatively high and I told the examiner that "from my position the right side mirror I can't see the curb at all" He directed me to "adjust the mirror so that it pointed down and I could see the curb".  I did so and completed backing up maneuver. Because I stopped to move forward a few feet and adjust my travel backward, and because I found it difficult to back up a specific distance from the curb using my side mirror (which I have never done), the examiner marked me down five points. That was not  a fair test. He never said that once started backwards I could not stop and adjust my path. He also would not let me use the method of looking over the hood and watching the curb recede or looking out the rear window and watching the curb as I backed up.  I thought the requirement to use only the right side mirror was not what the test intended. In fact, is a right side mirror required in California at all? The examiner marked me down 5 points.
There were other questionable 'mark downs' but as I review them, they were all simply a matter of interpreting the words on the test - and not worth discussing further.

DW

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