California officials look into new, tougher driving tests

| 10/12/2007

Obtaining a California driver’s license soon could become more difficult.

State officials are looking into whether more extensive tests should be used to evaluate a driver’s memory, reflexes and vision to identify people who shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

The tests, which would be carried out by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, still could be years away. By 2010 the agency expects to reach preliminary conclusions from a pilot program now under way. The plan is for the agency to report to state lawmakers the following year, the Los Angeles Times reported.

As a result, the earliest that drivers in the state could face any of the new tests would be 2012. The Legislature would need to sign off on the program.

The first test would check for obvious physical limitations, such as an inability to walk to the license renewal counter without assistance.

An eye test would also be given, with the eye chart’s letters fading from black to light gray on a white background. It is intended to help indicate whether a driver might not easily see a light-colored vehicle in fog or a dark vehicle in the shade, the Times reported.

A separate test would require drivers to write down their Social Security numbers or ZIP codes from memory.

Failure to pass any of the tests could result in another exam to check reflexes. Drivers also could be required to take road tests.

Licenses could only be revoked for failing the road test. A last resort to avoid license revocation would be to allow drivers to test their driving skills on roads near their residences. Passage of the test would authorize the driver to receive a restricted license allowing them to drive solely in that area.

To view other legislative activities of interest for California in 2007, click here.