This Op-Ed by Nicole Malliotakis originally appeared in the Brooklyn Reporter
Across the board, New York State has taken steps to increase efficiency and cut back on waste. At the Department of Motor Vehicles, however, officials discussed this sorely needed increase in efficiency by removing an evaluation of one of the basic elements of one’s ability to drive – the ability to see.
Under their proposal, licensed drivers would be able to self-certify that they meet the proper vision requirements when renewing their license every eight years, more than enough time fora person’s vision to deteriorate.
This would remove the necessity of reading the eye-chart we have grown so accustomed to seeing behind DMV counters or having a doctor sign paperwork verifying the driver’s vision meets the standards to operate a vehicle.
One would not help but feel apprehensive about driving, or even walking, on our roads without being assured that drivers are of the requisite physical condition to safely operate an automobile.
During the summer, a woman caused a five-car accident while attempting to make a U-turn on Third Avenue. Earlier this month,the driver of a truck crossed two lanes before causing a three-car pile-up on Seventh Avenue. And just two weeks ago, 65th Street experienced another accident which resulted in a driver being taken to the hospital by ambulance.
This is not to say that these accidents could have been prevented by more stringent DMV vision standards – in fact, the primary cause of a number of those accidents was intoxication – but it does show how dangerous our roads can be. Could we really afford to ignore such a vital component of a driver’s ability when determining whether he or she is fit to drive?
Fortunately, due to public criticism, the DMV has decided to maintain the traditional vision testing requirement until further evaluation. However, I am prepared to introduce legislation, if necessary, to ensure that completing a vision examination remains a requirement when renewing a driver’s license.
It is my hope that the DMV’s moment of clarity regarding the necessity of vision evaluation is a permanent one, and that the drivers and pedestrians of Bay Ridge can avoid an unnecessary danger.