Driver License Di-Vision
Please Help Eradicate Intolerance
“DO YOU WANT A CALLOUS STATE GOVERNMENT?”
State of Utah uses faulty equipment and inhospitable clerks
The Short Of It
The Drivers license clerk behind the window saw that my wife is not a native English speaker -- English is her third language (Cantonese & Mandarin preceded). Then he helped her flunk the vision test.
You're a victim. You are powerless and you don't count. Except to foot the bill as a taxpayer.
There's nothing you can do about it... Well, you could make a web page like this one...
This is what happened
The vision testing machine at the Department of public Safety displays one field for the left eye, one for the right eye and a stereo-synthesized, overlapping field for both eyes. It takes a bit of time and practice to see what you're supposed to see. The clerk was "un-helpful"; he made short shrift. Without a word, he flung a form, to be completed by an eye doctor, onto the counter. This was to be presented upon a subsequent return to the drivers license office, as a second-chance redemption of her visual acuity.
The next day we returned after having my wife's eyes examined by a doctor; but this time we went to another drivers license station in our city -- and she quickly obtained her drivers license.
My wife's vision was OK after all, according to the optometrist.
Elmer Haysied, 77, has his retina examined
during a checkup in Boston. Associated Press
At this new Drivers license station, this clerk was quite helpful. He was a young man who had worked for the Utah Department of public Safety for only about 2-1/2 years. He was not burned out yet, like the older career public servant at the first Drivers license station we visited.
I asked him for his estimate of how many applicants obtain a FALSE POSITIVE diagnosis like my wife. Te thought that there were about "two people a week" to whom this happens. He volunteered that on a busy day at his Drivers license station -- the second office we visited -- processes about 1000 applicants. He said by the time we had been there (about 4:pm on Tue, April 21, 2009), about 600 people had been serviced.
I asked if he thought that perhaps the problem we encountered, being rejected by the vision machine -- if this problem might occur more often with applicants who are not fluent in English, and the quickly clerk concurred.
So, this is the nature of the problem.
It turns out that we had to visit a doctor and have an expensive eye exam. This, I think, because of the first clerk's impatience and slipshod slovenly attitude. The vision testing machines at the Utah Department of Public safety's Driver License Division are probably poorly designed and ineffective. Utah ought to release an FRP to replace them statewide -- it's worth an investigation.
Driver License Division
4501 South 2700 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
801 / 965-4437
Contact Driver License Division
Emails received will be posted here. Replies / rebuttals are accepted, but you must give name and email address.
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2009 15:03:41 -0600
From: "dpscontact" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: DLD Feedback (DPS Web Auto Responce)
Your comments and/or questions are important to us. It helps us better understand how we can improve our services. Your inquiries will be forwarded via Email to the person who can best address your question or comments. In most cases you should receive a response within 1-3 working days.
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2009 16:28:10 -0600
From: "Wally Wintle" <email@example.com>
Cc: "Joanne Munson" <JMUNSON@utah.gov>
I would be more than happy to investigate your claims, if you will tell me what office you went to, when you were there, and who helped you [sic].
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2009 18:21
To: "Wally Wintle" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Constituent concern
Thank you very much, Wally. As I mentioned, [nobody actually helped us -- the opposite, hindrance obtained]. I went to two (2) driver license offices on consecutive days. The first office, the office with the problem, was the one on the state fairgrounds. That was on Monday, April 20th 2009. I don't remember the name of the gentleman behind the window-- he did not introduce himself to us; but I remember we had the waiting-ticket #100 that afternoon, perhaps 4:pm.
I hope that helps. Thanks kindly in advance for your reply.
This machine tries to accomplish a plethora of things, much more than the simple vision check inten-ded -- and it fails in its accuracy. A simple eye chart would be better!
"The Vision Screener tests Acuity (14" & 20'), Depth Perception, Color Percep-tion, Muscle Balance (Lateral & Verti-cal Phoria), Horizontal Visual Fields (Peripheral vision of 130 degrees in each eye) in one lightweight, compact & easy-to- use instrument."
The TITMUS T2a at the Salt Lake City, UT Fairgrounds, 2009.
The hassle, the expense
It has been a real hassle and a serious expense to get this done... the doctor bill, the time off work, and all for no good reason... For your information -- I just made a return visit to that Fairgrounds office and made a photo of an example of the offending machine -- for publication on the 'Net, in pursuance of this story -- [Attached] is the picture.
The vision tester model is the TITMUS T2a. This machine, as used at the drivers license office does a worse job of testing than a simple eye chart would do-- it has an excessive number of FALSE POSITIVES. And it's an example of waste in Utah government. This ought to be looked into.
From: "Wally Wintle" <email@example.com>
Cc: "Debbie Clark" <DEBBIECLARK@utah.gov>,
"Lynn Schultz" <LSCHULTZ@utah.gov>,
"Nannette Rolfe" <NROLFE@utah.gov>
Thank you for this information. I am working with the supervisor at our Fair Park office to see if we can determine which employee gave the eye test to your wife.We have used three different brands of eye machines over the years and occasionally have experienced this problem with all three brands. I know that occasionally an applicant does experience a problem. I don't know if it's a combination of the machines's optics and the applicant's optical structure of the eye that causes the problem...what ever it is, it happens from time to time. In talking with my area manager about this issue, he suggests that we have the old reliable wall chart to use as a back up, before people are sent to see the eye doctor. I think that is a good idea and plan on pursuing it, to hopefully resolve the problem.This will be a training issue for us, and possibly the employee whom you dealt with was new and not sufficiently experienced or instructed in this type of issue.Regardless, I feel badly that you were burdened with the time, frustration, and cost from this and apologize. Perhaps an option available, to possibly recoup the money spent, is to contact the state's Risk Management Division (801-538-9560) and pursue a claim.
Thank you, Wally. Yes, I can believe when you say that sometimes applicants experience this problem with these TITMUS machines. I saw what my wife was talking about because I, too, could experience the TITMUS's artifacts which she saw, although I could later see all three columns in the visual field, whereas she could only see two. (Her peripheral vision is OK as verified by the medical report). I think the driver license examiners should be made aware of this potential problem and should be trained to recognize it.
The examiner at the second driver license office, the one we visited after the mandated eye exam was done, took the time to chat with us a bit about this issue. I suggested the supplementary use of the old-fashioned eye-chart, for people who fail the vision test, especially by reporting that they cannot see 12 letters in the visual field. He told me that, yes this idea had been discussed internally. Perhaps you could keep us informed as to what has been or will be done with regard to using the old reliable wall-chart as a backup, before people are sent to an eye doctor.
Thank you for your apology and concern. As for reimbursement, as you mentioned, I had hoped it would have result immediately after contacting you here, but I appreciate your giving me the suggestion to contact another of the state of Utah's departments. I'll do it, thanks. As long as the Utah Department of Public Safety has been in business, or at least as long as it has recognized this problem, perhaps tens of thousands of victims, perhaps more -- estimating from the incidence of false positives given to me earlier -- perhaps on the order of millions of dollars have been spent needlessly by applicants in Utah during the last decade, applicants who had acceptable vision but nevertheless were forced to visit an eye doctor.
The assumptions I used for this estimate are:
2: FALSE POSITIVES / wk / 1 Salt Lake City DL office 312: FALSE POSITIVES / yr / three Salt Lake DL offices 25%: SLC + WVC + Provo is of UT population = 341,581 people (*) $100: Cost per doctor visit
* Using 2007 population data
This is an estimated expense of $917,116 cost.
We're not counting the cost of lost time. And we're not counting the time and effort spent by you and your colleagues in handling complaints like this. So it's lonely that the real cost of these false positives is over $1,000,000 for this time period.