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Friday, April 19, 2024

Seniors are receiving a Notice of Re-Examination for minor traffic violations

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Recently, an increasing number of Korean seniors have been stopped by the police on minor traffic violations and had their licenses taken away.

This is likely due to an increase in the number of traffic accidents involving senior drivers and the police crackdown on them.

“Korean seniors who are stopped for traffic violations are facing stronger disciplinary measures, such as having their licenses taken away and receiving a Notice of Re-Examination instead of being issued a ticket,” Kim Eung-moon, who has been running Kim’s Driving School for 47 years in Los Angeles Koreatown, said on April 7. “The number of inquiries related to this has reached 40 to 50 per year, and it has increased as more cars are on the road after the pandemic.”

According to Kim, these are mostly senior drivers in their 60s and 70s. In recent years, he said, police have tightened the reins on enforcement as the number of senior driver accidents has risen.

In fact, according to traffic fatality statistics from 2008 to 2020 released by the National Safety Council (NSC), the number of traffic fatalities among people aged 65 and older hit a 12-year high of 934 in 2019, the year before the pandemic. That’s 29% more than in 2011 (723), the lowest number of deaths.

“The aging population has increased the number of older drivers,” Kim said, “but degenerative myopia, memory decline, and knee joint problems affect safe driving.”

According to Kim, some of the most common traffic violations, especially among Korean seniors include failing to respond appropriately to emergency signals such as ambulance movements, failing to respond immediately to other vehicles or pedestrians, crossing lanes, failing to turn on headlights when driving at night, and failing to stop at red and stop signs.

Most recently, a Korean-American woman in her 60s who lives in Gardena was pulled over for making a right turn on Wilshire Boulevard without seeing a driver crossing the street, Kim said. Instead of a ticket, however, the woman reportedly had her license taken away and received a notice to retest.

“There is heavy traffic regulation by the police along 3rd St. and Vermont Ave., Olympic Ave. and Western Ave., and Wilshire Blvd. in Koreatown,” he said. “If you are caught, there is a high probability that the police will ask you to retest your driver’s license exam if you are 65 or older.”

Korean-American seniors are caught more during the summer, when the days are longer, he added.

“If the driver is older and the police believe that driving is unsafe for them, they can ask for a retest,” said Ben Park, president of the Korean American Law Enforcement Officers Association (KALEO). “It can be done by any police officer, not just the traffic police, and it is at the police’s discretion to decide whether to retrieve the license on the spot.”

Meanwhile, if you receive a retest notice, you have 10 days to contact the DMV’s Driver Safety Office (DSO) to schedule an appointment.

The DSO will conduct an interview, eye exam, and written and practical tests for drivers.

If the DSO determines that your driving skills are not up to par, you may receive a Restricted License, which prohibits you from driving on freeways or at night, or your license may be revoked.

Currently, GIMS Driving School is conducting a DMV-approved training program for Korean seniors to prevent accidents and improve driving skills. Inquiries: (323)731-0833

 

BY JANG SU-AH [jang.suah@koreadaily.com]