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Bus Driver From Mamaroneck Alarmed by New DMV Eye Exam Policy

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- As a school bus driver, John Pinkowski said he notices every traffic infraction other drivers make and expects to see more now that drivers in New York State are no longer required to retake eye exams when renewing their licenses, effective Wednesday.

Not only does the Mamaroneck resident have his own safety to think about, but that of the kids who take the bus he drives to and from school every day. This policy change, he said, is a step in the wrong direction.

"It comes down to safety because, as a bus driver, I see a lot of people who don't drive safe," Pinkowski said. "When you drive a school bus, you see everything."

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles announced a new Internet application called "MyDMV,” which was said to help shorten waiting times and increase customer service throughout the state.

"These changes will make it easier for New Yorkers to use the Internet or mail to renew their driver license and conduct a number of other transactions," said Barbra J. Fiala, commissioner of the state DMV.

With the new system, drivers can self-certify that they meet vision requirements the same way they do with other medical issues as of Wednesday. The self-certification of vision requirements only applies to drivers renewing a license every eight years and excludes commercial drivers, who will still undergo medical and vision tests twice a year.

Pinkowski is still required to take an eye exam, and other medical tests, every year.

Jackie McGinness, spokesperson for the New York State DMV, said the regulation should have no negative impacts for drivers, citing a period from 1993 to 2000 when vision testing was not required in New York.

"Anyone who goes to the DMV knows the lines can get too long," McGinness said. "I think people will understand that this is a convenience for them."

Assemblyman Robert J. Castelli (R, C - Goldens Bridge) said though he understood the desire to speed up the renewal process, drivers could handle the time it takes to test vision.

"A reduction in sight can happen," Castelli said. "Overall, it's a bad idea. Eyesight is imperative to driver safety."

Castelli said the regulation was passed through private agencies and was not voted upon.

The "MyDMV" application also brings the services of changing addresses, receiving email reminders when vehicle registration and inspections are about to expire, downloading and printing driving records and allowing parents to monitor their teens' driving behaviors.

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