Seeing or just believing?

September 27, 2011 12:40:19 PM PDT
My dad was a good driver. I'll say that from the get-go. But in the late 1970s, he went in for a cornea operation - and it didn't end well.

When he emerged, he couldn't see out of that eye. He had a great sense of humor - always self-effacing. And since his name was Irl, pronounced "Earl" - he had a vanity license plate made that read simply "1-I."

It was funny.

And not so funny.

I always thought it was great my dad felt independent and empowered and able to drive a car with just one eye.

I also always thought it was downright dangerous.

I would sometimes close my left eye while driving to put myself in my father's shoes, or seat. The experiment in empathy never lasted long; I just couldn't bear to keep my driver's-side in the dark and still feel as if I were driving safely.

Of course my father had no choice. And I worried everyday about his driving.

I always wondered how the state - it was California - let him do this. But in a place where the car is king, what's a blind spot or two?

The only yield to his vision was that my dad eventually stopped driving at night. But he kept on driving till the last several months of his life.

I thought about my father's one-eyed driving today, on the eve of a huge change in the way drivers in New York State renew their licenses. Beginning tomorrow, you can "self certify" that you meet the "vision requirement" when you renew online. New licenses and commercial licenses still require eye tests; but if you're renewing, all you have to do when responding to the question, "Oh, say, can you see?" is answer, "Yes I can see."

And just like that, a new driver's license is mailed to you.

I mean it's weird enough that the driver's license I keep getting renewed and mailed back to me has my picture that's more than 16 years old. (I sometimes think whoever is looking at it gives me a "yeah, right? that's you with all that brown hair" look.)

But doesn't it risk public safety by only requiring self certification rather than a real vision test?

There are many who think it does.

And tonight at 11 we take a closer look at this controversial measure to save money and streamline the DMV.

One other note: there are six other states that do not require vision tests for renewing drivers' licenses, including Pennsylvania and Connecticut. And New York once had this law before - from 1993 to 2000.

Also at 11, we're taking a closer look at the fascinating opening statements in the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician for Michael Jackson who is accused of manslaughter in the entertainer's death. The trial in Los Angeles hasn't drawn O.J.-type audiences, but there are many who are following it.

And with so many people cutting back on spending, tonight we look at one household expense that perhaps shouldn't fall under the spending ax: Prescription drugs. Consumer reports has a poll that shows more than a quarter of those taking medications have taken potentially dangerous steps to cut their drug costs.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Meteorologist Lee Goldberg with his AccuWeather forecast and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11.


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