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DOT, Driver License Division Discriminating Against Cane Walkers and Seniors?

Fifty years of driving and things have changed for the driver license test.  Today is the last day I can legally drive until several things happen.

  1. Take the test again.
  2. Move the huge blocking For Lease sign on the side of the road forcing a driver to inch out until I could see oncoming traffic blocked by the sign.  I needed to make a left turn out of the license parking and could not see traffic.  The tester said, “Stop!”  Apparently, she thought I intended to jump into oncoming traffic.  I explained what I was doing and we carried on. It set the tone.
  3. About fifty years ago, they used real cars for the parallel parking test.  These days they use two little traffic cones – neither is sized, shaped or looks like a car.  I may have bumped one corner of the first cone backing into the space – it was that close.  Twenty some years between parallel parking and I did it again Friday…apparently not well. Parallel Parking

When you parallel park, park within 12 inches of the curb.

Here are the steps to parallel parking:

• Stop even with the

car ahead. Turn

the wheel sharp

right and back

slowly toward the

car behind.

• When clear of the

car ahead, turn

the wheel sharp

left and back

slowly to the car


• Turn the wheel

sharp right and

pull toward the

curb in the center

of the parking

The first diagram show both cars lined up evenly before beginning the backward parallel park.  What do the current cones represent – how do you line up with the cone?

The tests should follow the instructions in the WA State Driver’s Guide.  Either use the cone example in the guide or replace the cone with real cars.

Another oddity in the Guide is on page 72.

“ • When being followed closely If you are being followed

closely, you should allow extra room. You will then be

able to stop without being hit from behind.”

How is that done?

Fifty years of driving forms judgment calls and quick decision-making driving moves.  I am a safe, careful and cautious driver and thought I had if not aced the test, at least passed it.

I scored a 72 – not passing.

I made an appointment immediately for another test.  She said I could and would make the appointment for me and went into the building.  When she came back to the car, she said I must get a doctor’s signature that I am medically safe to drive before I could make another test drive appointment and handed me the sheet of paper for my doctor.   Nothing she scored against me had anything to do with my medical conditions.

I do not understand why the driver test person says one thing then apparently; talks to someone else who changes the playing field and adds stuff to what should have been a simple procedure.

I also do not understand why the original girl at the counter told the driver test person that she had given me an eye test when she did not.  We did not get that far – she did not even suggest it.

We drove by my doctor’s office and dropped off the DOT License Division medical sheet Dr. Eady filled out and I will pick up tomorrow.  There is no medical reason I cannot drive.  If the DOT want seniors and cane walkers off the road, they could be straightforward about it.

That said I have no complaints about the first line people at the driver’s license office – they are doing their job.

The driver license tester was pleasant and friendly.  Ten minutes late the young woman did not have to take me but she kindly did.  It must be hard to do a job when the rules and procedure seem muddy and not clear to all ….in my opinion.

Anyone know where I can get a refresher course in horse driving?  Just in case.

… a delay in my cycling dream trip, more later.

Above all, thanks for reading… Sharon O’Hara

8 thoughts on “DOT, Driver License Division Discriminating Against Cane Walkers and Seniors?

  1. My 52 yr old friend, said the same thing, about her cane. She had to get a medical note from her doctor to drive.
    Funny thing, they let her mother drive, and she doesn’t remember how to drive around town, often times.
    They weren’t worried too much about my 75 yr old grandfather, either, who insisted on doing 50 mph on the 60 mph freeway.

    Just goes to show you….it’s always somethin.

  2. Do you think just maybe your grip has just a little bit to do with the fact that you could not pass the driving test in the first place?

    You will be evaluated on the following:
    Driving through blind or crowded intersections
    • Do you scan carefully for signs, signals, pedestrians, and other vehicles?
    • Do you yield and take the right-of-way correctly?
    It is a good thing real cars are not used for the parallel park test as you could have damaged one of them.
    Sunday morning I watched a little hunched over Grandma in her SUV pull into Fred Meyers proudly displaying her handicapped parking card. She decides not to park in a handicapped spot (which all were open) but decides to park right in the middle of two regular parking spots. Perfect reason why seniors need to pass a refresher driving test.

    1. No – I’m sorry it seems that way to you. I sent an email to the Road Warrior with my question of possible discrimination on Wednesday before my Friday driving test. I fully expected to pass that driver’s test.

      What I am doing in this blog is the total opposite of how I’ve lived most of my life…keeping my business to myself. My comments aren’t about me – only as my experiences as a senior and physically challenged person. I’m using walking sticks (canes) in the world I used to know as a healthy person.
      Every stat shows seniors are not the major cause of traffic fatalities.
      Fine. Give all seniors a driving test – don’t pretend to not discriminate – when it seems clear to me that the DOT IS DISCRIMINATING against seniors using canes. Their website should reflect that seniors using canes MUST take the driver’s test and allow us to make the appointment to do so.
      Thanks for your comments… Sharon
      Any given day I see drivers of all ages do stupid things. Isn’t that why we must drive defensively?

  3. I have difficulty parallel parking after years of driving, but must admit I don’t have to do it much (maybe once out of every 20 trips). I usually get around it by choosing spaces with lots of room. I agree w/you 100% about the use of cones for the test — cars should be used because that is real world. I agree that lining up with cones is inappropriate.

    Also, it is pretty bad that that For Lease sign is in the way. I’d be seriously tempted to find a way to knock down or move that sign before retaking the test, assuming it’s not too large.

    1. They should use the cones instead of cars in their drivers manual instead of cars.
      I’ll call before I go on Friday and ask about that sign…. thanks for your comments.
      This is an issue everyone will face one day…. Sharon

  4. Oh, also I think there is probably a law that requires that those posting signs do so w/o blocking view of traffic. It’s curious that the license bureau would not want to enforce this law since it affects everyone getting out of the parking lot.

  5. Go up to Shelton. The drive is nice and so are the people up there. We live in Belfair and do all of our renewals etc up there. Hardly any line and it goes fast. There office is near a large parking lot and easy to get to.

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