Over at the Department of Motor Vehicles, an interesting -- and, for some, scary -- experiment is in progress.
Officials are trying out some new eye charts and reaction-time tests on drivers renewing their licenses...
At first glance, those eye charts are downright spooky. There are six lines of letters. The first line looks like it's fading away in tule fog. The second is worse. The sixth? Forget about it....
Before you even take the eye test, DMV workers will ask you to write your social security number by memory down on a piece of paper. They say there is a correlation between memory loss on rote numbers, like a Social Security number, and crashes.
You're forewarned before you step up to the counter that you'll be asked to write your Social Security number. In fact, they have you write it on the back of a form that has on its front, yes, your Social Security number, written a few minutes earlier by you.
If you don't remember it, or if you do poorly on the eye test, you must take the perception and reaction-time test.
You sit at a computer and watch a silhouette of a vehicle flash for a few milliseconds on the screen. You must identify whether it was a car or truck. You do this repeatedly. The flashes get shorter...
If you don't score well enough on the computer or eye tests, the DMV will require you to take the dreaded road driving test...
DMV officials say the new tests aren't really a get-tough move. They hope the new system can help some drivers become more aware of their limitations and find ways to compensate for them.
I am completely against this new testing regime for the following reasons:
1. It stifles the creativity of drivers.
2. It's not testing the "whole driver".
3. There's plenty that goes into driving that can't be evaluated by a machine.
4. This is just "drill and kill"--why aren't they testing critical thinking skills, which the research shows is more important to driving than merely being able to see?
5. This is a one-size-fits-all, high stakes test.
6. Why should we test, anyway? Testing doesn't make anyone a better driver.
Have I made my point yet?