Thursday, January 07, 2016

Reeling and Writhing: Trauma by Public Education

"Reeling and Writhing of course, to begin with," the Mock Turtle replied, "and the different branches of arithmetic - ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision." (Lewis Caroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)

I don't remember when, but I learned how to read and write well before I started attending public school.  The home I grew up in had bookshelves holding many hundreds of books.  I read many of them before I started school, never realizing that they were intended for more mature readers.

There was a chalk board in one of the bedrooms, and we were always writing things on it.  I knew how to write my own name.

And therein lies the problem.  I knew who I was - well before public school teachers presumed to teach me different.  Although learning at home was a good start to my personal education experience, when I started attending public school, it all came off the rails.  For what I have learned though my life, I gratefully thank my parents.  Public school teachers taught me more bad habits than good.

Not such a problem in kindergarten.  As I recall, we didn't have to do much writing in class. And no reading at all.  I read at home.  A LOT.

My first grade teacher at Aurelia Pennekamp Elementary School was Mr. Marcus.  I thought he was a mean man.

He insisted that my name was David.  I knew it wasn't.  Everyone who knew me called me "Jimmy".

Later on in my life I realized that most institutions mechanically and thoughtlessly recorded my formal name as "David James Cobabe", invariably shortened to just "David Cobabe", with no recognition of the fact that by preference or tradition, some are called by their middle name.  The nearly universal first-name-centric bigotry continues to irritate me to this day.

Mr. Marcus insisted that I should not be writing with my left hand, and consistently censured me for attempting to use my left hand.  He tried to "cure" me.  Left-handed writing in the first grade was doubly problematic.  Not only was left-handedness treated unkindly, but the coarse paper medium and soft pencils tended to smear across the page as lefties tended to drag their pudgy fist across the paper.  Throughout the first grade, the side of my left hand was chronically discolored shiny gray, from a soft pencil smear, while my handwriting consistently earned me poor marks, no matter how laboriously I tried.

With my messy and smudged printing, I could never please that teacher, though I was trying to perform the way I had learned at home.  It was my first encounter with such an authority figure that tried to force me to change my personal habits.  It was an emotional confrontation, and has colored my perception ever since.

One of our first grade learning exercises was group reading.  Students would arrange their little chairs in a circle facing in, and take turns around the circle, attempting to read a few sentences out loud.  I chafed impatiently as other children stumbled along, slowly reading the simple texts, almost incoherently at times.  I was certain that they were putting on a stupid act just to infuriate me.  Nobody with even a minimal level of reading skills could be that pathetic.  Usually I had read silently ahead though the whole book in just a few minutes while the rest of the students were still perusing the first few pages.  They were always pointless little pretend books anyway, unlike the interesting literature I was discovering at home.  "Fun with Dick and Jane" was never any fun.

My own impatience with other students was my downfall.  I became bored, and ceased from paying attention.  This practice turned into a lifelong habit - my biggest lesson from public education.

I also suffer from a serious problem with respect for authority.  Particularly when the authority seems to come from someone manifestly less capable, especially in cognitive skills.  I have long been an observer of the Dunning Kruger effect, even before it became the subject of an academic study.  And I blame my first grade school teacher in part.

Additionally, I have struggled for my whole life with public difficulties related to my last name.  "Cobabe" has been mangled, misspelled, and mispronounced in every conceivable manner.  And quite a few that are not.  "Cobain", "Cobage", "Cabbage" among some of the creative renderings.  I have been named "Co-bob-a" by any number of Spanish-speaking associates.  From time to time, I get solicitations from porno sites to join the party, celebrating a more perverted twist on the "Cobabe" name.  The more practical telephone contacts almost inevitably ask how to they should spell "Cobabe", and almost always have trouble with pronunciation.  I can generally tell when they are reading my name for the first time from a document or a computer display.  That they frequently think my name is "David" is an additional giveaway.

When I hear that my last name is an unusual one, I frequently reply that it is quite common in my family.  The typical nonplussed non-comprehension reaction seldom fails to gratify my passive-aggressive inclination.

I have grown impatient and intolerant of careless or deliberate misspelling, whether my own or from others.  I am adamant that we should always take note and correct our mistakes immediately, or that we should do this for others.  Not as a way of showing off my superiority in most cognitive skills.   That was never in question.

I want to make it a point that I respect other people enough to learn how to spell their name correctly. My own feelings have been hurt enough times that I am hypersensitive about it.  Not presuming to be the spelling Nazi.  Just a simple gesture of common respect.

One nit-picky example.   A few years ago, someone at the State of Utah Driver License Division spelled my last name wrong in transposing it from a hand-written application.  I did not notice the error until quite some time later.  My last name was misspelled on the plastic card that represents a "permanent" driving license in Utah.

When I returned to the DLD and reported the error, they accused me of misspelling my own last name.  They wanted me to give them money to compensate them for the trouble of correcting my mistake.  It was a trivial amount, so it didn't bother me, other than that it was obviously THEIR error.

A short time later, as I was waiting for the clerical correction, they happened to look up the online facsimile of the form I had originally submitted.  It clearly showed that I had spelled my own name correctly.

Nothing further was mentioned about tendering the fee.  But no apology was forthcoming either.

Just one example of the many unhappy incidents that stem from garbling my last name.

There is nothing terribly wrong or offensive about spelling errors.  Our written communication is complex and in some instances not very intuitive.  That does not give us license for poor spelling.  We should correct our mistakes as soon as they are recognized, and learn to do better.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Driving Test 2

Though I only drove my car for a few minutes over the past few weeks, it seems that I magically acquired much improved driving skills,  sufficient to pass the test with flying colors.  Now, apparently thanks to the beneficent tutelage of the DLD, I am such a wondrously improved driver.  Now I suddenly and inexplicably deserve to be granted the privilege of driving without my mommy to accompany me, after my initial execrable performance and abject failure.  But not without significant cost and compromise.

The DLD deigns to issue me a "license" - albeit with a multitude of arbitrary restrictions that make it well nigh to useless.  I still cannot legally drive to my doctor's office or hospital.  Nor can I even drive to the Springville Walmart without running afoul of the restrictions.  Driving to Salt Lake Valley to visit my children is out of the question.

After she notified me that I passed the test, I complained about all the unwarranted restrictions to the examiner, who seemed astonished that anyone would be so ungrateful about being presented with such a charitable gift.  So she dutifully summoned her supervisor to confront me with bureaucratic stonewalling, and berate me for my gauche.  The supervisor said something about "having a conversation", then proceeded to discount every word I said,  effectively granting me her  beneficent permission to shut up and go away.  She offered no reasonable justification for any of the arbitrarily imposed "restrictions".

I had to laugh when the woman bristled at my characterization of their segregating the group of "normal" drivers from the "impaired" to target for discrimination.   Her retort, "Do you realize what a SERIOUS charge you're making!?"  As if I was somehow offering insult to her virtue and integrity.   I am using exactly the same language used in the State of Utah laws which the DLD uses to codify and justify discrimination against handicapped drivers.

She claimed that the State of Utah DLD is the guardian of "safety" - even though none of the "restrictions" they were imposing had anything to do with any demonstration of "safety" issues.   Indeed, the drivers who are recognized by the Utah Department of Public Safety as the most accident-prone of all generally enjoy perfectly unrestricted driving privileges, right up to the moment when they murder somebody.  What a brilliant "SAFETY" program!

In this round, the insistence on head-swiveling continues.  The examiner KNOWS, in her heart-of-hearts, backup cameras are no substitute for turning your head around 180 degrees, even though this virtually eliminates the usefulness of a backup camera.  The NHTSA has mandatory required backup cameras in all new vehicles starting next year.  But the DLD still knows better.  The examiner says, "Don't you DARE look at the backup camera while backing."  Even though in the vehicle I drove for this test,  the view through the back window that the examiner insisted I should use is severely limited and unreliable at best, even NOT SAFE to rely on!

Need I add that this is a totally regressive mindset.  I daresay it is typical at the State of Utah DLD.  The Federal government mandates that all cars have backup cameras starting this year, but the State of Utah DLD still insists that we must never use them.

Not only does the DLD examiner insist on swivel heads, she maintained her pretence that she could not change the driving test requirements to omit parallel parking.  I demonstrated my parallel parking skills by the curb on the street next to the DLD office, and asserted that this is the only type of parallel parking I am ever likely to attempt.  Nonetheless, she still insisted that I try to park between the DLD cones.  I asserted numerous times that my physical handicap precludes any facility at such manuvering, but she continued to insist that it is a mandatory part of the driving test.  Even though other parts of the test are routinely omitted.  I made a token pass at parking between the cones, and she predictably construed my "failure" as a driving test violation, with an imposed penalty.

I could not care less about parallel parking.  It would be fine with me if the DLD imposed a restriction on my driving license that explicitly restricts me from attempting to park between two cones.  I am happy to stipulate that I cannot and will not ever be able to perform parallel parking, by the DLD definition.   I would not even object to any number of other restrictions that prevent me from legally attempting things I am not physically capable of doing.  But the insistence that I must perform the parking attempt on the driving test is obviously symptomatic of a greater problem at the DLD.

According to this, I am restricted to:
  • driving on roads with a speed limit of 40 MPH or less
  • daylight driving only
  • hand controls
  • spotter mirrors
Not one of these listed restrictions makes a particle of sense - in fact, they are the height of absurdity.  I implemented the hand controls myself.

None of the "restrictions" have to do with anything remotely related to "safety".  The examiner's supervisor at the DLD defended their arbitrary requirements, asserting that I raised no objection to them when they were originally imposed.  Well, excuse me, but I do not recall that  you were present at the time.  I most certainly DID object to the restrictions.  At the time, I had no reason to believe that the DLD practices routine discrimination against handicapped drivers.  Now that I have experienced it consistently, I recognize blatant discrimination for what it is.

My suspicion is that the examiner passed me this time because she believed my pickup truck was under video surveillance - which it was - and she no confidence that she could get away with fabricating such an unjustified and outrageous test score as previous, with other people witnessing.  I don't like video surveillance, but I could think of no other option to protect myself in this manifestly hostile environment.


Her primary concern was that there was a little bit of snow on the roads.  I have no such doubts about driving on snowy roads, and would venture that I have more cumulative experience driving in snow than the examiner has ever travelled on dry pavement.

One of the violations she checked off was "RS", indicating that she was reporting a "rolling stop".  Because of problems with automatic adjustment for light conditions, that portion of the video record of the incident is not conclusive, but the audio track clearly indicates that the vehicle made a complete stop for several seconds prior to accelerating for the right turn.  The engine noise is unmistakable.

It was funny to see that the examiner chose to instruct me to perform a U turn on a residential street - in my full sized pickup truck.   Most would have easily recognized that the truck does not have a small enough turning radius and cannot complete a U turn in such a narrow street.

I also had to laugh about the examiner's imposition of the "spotter mirrors" requirement, after she observed my frequent use of mirrors during the test.  In fact I have always made frequent use of mirrors.  This "spotter mirrors" requirement is just an annoyance more than anything.  She apparently noticed that my right hand mirror has a cheap cheesy convex mirror affixed.  Two of these little mirrors were on the truck when it was purchased used, some years previous.  They never bothered me, other than the barely significant useful mirror surface they waste.  But this is an additional symptom of imposing meaningless arbitrary restrictions.  The truck used to have another little phony mirror glued on to the drivers side REAL mirror, but it fell off somewhere, and I never bothered to replace it.  The little mirrors never made any significant difference to my SAFE driving.

The restriction to drive on roads of 40 MPH or less is fatuous  and punitive from the beginning.  I am certainly no better or worse at driving 60 than I am at driving 40.  Another baseless "safety" restriction.

I have no idea why anyone would have dreamed up the "daylight driving only" restriction.  Indeed, I have no recollection that anyone ever formally tested my night driving, or questioned me more than in passing about any difficulties I might have had with night driving. I would have answered that  I have never had any reason to suppose my nightime driving is any better or worse than any NORMAL driver.  And neither does the State of Utah DLD.  Just another inexplicable arbitrary and discriminatory restriction.

As already mentioned, the hand controls were implemented by ME, as an adaptive measure to accommodate my physical handicap.  None of the other restrictions can be realistically construed to relate to the hand control adaptation.  But the DLD just had to list this, as if it were THEIR idea.  Actually, I gave up all hope of driving with NORMAL pedal controls years ago.  I only recently discovered the hand controls that let me drive my car nearly as if I could function NORMALLY.

The "15 MILE RADIUS FROM HOME" restriction is another pointless and arbitrary restrictive measure that amounts to punitive.  If I had the will, I could legally drive in circles for thousands of miles.  This appears to be the intent of this silly restriction.  I have a number of destinations I could and would travel to frequently if it did not violate my "restrictions".  The compassionate and sensitive supervisor suggested I should just learn to rely on public transportation.  I could tell from her attitude that SHE never does, and that she would never suggest this to any NORMAL person.

The "spotter mirrors" requirement is just a ludicrous afterthought.  I bought a new set from Amazon to install in my pickup for $3.00.  I could not care less, other than the fact that it is an arbitrary and entirely capricious imposition.  I cannot imagine that the DLD would even THINK to make such a silly requirement for a NORMAL driver.  But for me, the IMPAIRED driver, it's just a great idea.  So why not make it a "restriction"?

As far as I know, I have never encountered one single person from the State of Utah DLD who has medical credentials, is board certified as a qualified medical practitioner, or who even is even reasonably well informed about medical handicaps.  If DLD employees have no particular expertise that qualifies them to make judgements about medical issues, they need to defer to the opinion of those who ARE qualified to make such deliberations.  I expected the DLD to actually LOOK at the recommendations my doctors make.  When I see clear evidence that they are not even CAPABLE of reading a medical report, I don't believe they ever did.  Instead, they just assume that medical handicaps must be a safety hazard.  As a result of this bigotry,  NORMAL drivers have not restrictions, while those labelled as medically IMPAIRED get much worse treatment than drunk drivers.

Note that the restricted temporary license states that it expires in six months.  Yet another arbitrary and capricious limitation that no NORMAL driver ever encounters.  Oh joy!  I get to repeat this senseless exercise, every six months.  To be sure, I will work on improving my video surveillance technology.

Thrilled at the prospect of enjoying such graceful accommodation at the State of Utah DLD!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

You're not permitted...


Hey, you're not permitted in there - it's restricted.  You'll be deactivated for sure.
Don't you call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight glop of grease!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Worthy is the Lamb

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by his blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
 Blessing and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Glory of the Lord

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:5)

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Wise men still seek him...


Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
For ever and ever, forever and ever,

King of kings, and Lord of lords,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
And Lord of lords,
And He shall reign,
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings, forever and ever,
And Lord of lords,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Utah Freedom of Information request

David James Cobabe
812 W 1340 S
Provo UT 84601

6 Dec 2015

Utah Department of Public Safety, Driver's License Division
4501 S 2700 W Salt Lake City, Utah 84114

Dear Sirs,
Under the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act, §63-2-101 et seq., I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of public records of forms "Utah State DLD Standard Road Test" dating from 1 Jan 2008 to 4 Dec 2015. 
This information is not being sought for commercial purposes.
The Utah Government Records Access and Management Act requires that public records responses be made within at least 10 business days if the records are for individual purposes or within five business days if the record is meant to benefit the general public. If access to the records I am requesting will take longer than this amount of time, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records. 
If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law. 
Thank you for considering my request. 
David James Cobabe 

And the State of Utah responds forthwith...

The Utah Department of Public Safety, Driver License Division (DLD) recently received your request for records dated December 6, 2015, in which your requested copies of public records of forms "Utah State DLD Standard Road Test" dating from January 1, 2008 to December 4, 2015. The release of records held by the DLD is governed by the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) found at Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-101 et seq.

            The DLD has determined there are six records that meet your request and that you are entitled to receive these records.  Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-203, provides that a government agency may charge a reasonable fee to cover the government entity’s actual cost of providing a record.  According the Department of Public Safety’s GRAMA fee schedule, the cost of providing a copy of the requested records is $5.00.  If you wish to obtain a copy of these records, please send a check payable to DLD in the above-amount to:

Driver License Division
Attn: John Fairbanks
P.O. Box 144501
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4501

Upon receipt of your payment the DLD will process your request and mail the requested records directly to you.

John Fairbanks
Utah Dept. Of Public Safety - Driver License Division

I have no idea what Mr John Fairbanks intends by his reply.  Obviously there are more than six records in the DLD database dating from between 2008 and 2015.  I will follow up on tendering the amount and find out what $5.00 is worth to the State of Utah.

More to come...

Today is 9 Dec 2015.  I sent two requests to the State of Utah for this information.  When they reply and need further elaboration I will next send four requests.  After that I will next send eight requests.  Following that I will send sixteen, then thirty two, then sixty four, then one hundred twenty eight, then two hundred fifty six, then five hundred twelve, then one thousand sixty four, and so on.  Each iteration will serve as practice to help me make more perfect the next round.  I have so much to learn about this process, and lots of time with nothing else to do.

Until I get it right...

As anticipated, the next non-response from the State of Utah Department of Public Safety, on 11 Dec 2015...

The Utah Department of Public Safety, Driver License Division (DLD) recently received your request for records dated December 9, 2015, in which your requested copies of public driver license test results recorded using form "Utah State DLD Standard Road Test" dating from January 1, 2008 to December 4, 2015. The release of records held by the DLD is governed by the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) found at Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-101 et seq.

Test results recorded using form "Utah State DLD Standard Road Test" are part of the driving record. These records are classified as Private, Utah Code Ann. Ann. § 63G-2-302, by the DLD and access is governed under Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-202(1). You have failed to demonstrate you are entitled access to private records under Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-202. Consequently, your request for these records is hereby denied.

As required by Utah Code Ann. § 63G-2-205, this serves as notice to you, that you have the right to appeal this decision of denial within 30 days.  Any appeal should be directed to Commissioner Keith Squires, 4501 South 2700 West, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114.

John Fairbanks 
ManagerDriver License Division

Now I need to learn how "public" records are classified as "Private".   And exactly how I am required to "demonstrate" that I am entitled to use "private records".

My latest foray in email to bureaucrats...

David James Cobabe
812 W 1340 S
Provo UT 84601

9 Dec 2015

Utah Department of Public Safety 
4501 S 2700 W Salt Lake City, Utah 84114

Dear Sirs,
Under the Utah Government Records Access and Management Act, §63-2-101 et seq., I am requesting copies of public drivers license test results recorded using form "Utah State DLD Standard Road Test" dating from 1 Jan 2008 to 1 Jan 2015.

This information is not being sought for commercial purposes. 
It is not necessary to include personal data in the records I am seeking to access.  The name and driver's license number are not relevant and can be expunged.
The age of the driver is not critical to initial statistical ANOVA, but in the absence of other personal information reveals no private information. 
All other data recorded on the "Utah State DLD Standard Road Test" records is generated by public employees of the Utah Department of Public Safety, Driver's License Division, and is reasonably subject to being classified as public information.

This analysis of public records is intended to benefit the general public.

David James Cobabe

No doubt the State of Utah Department of Public Safety has the resources to perform exhaustive analysis of their public data.  The thing is, I have no reason to trust them.  This thing calls for an outside audit.  I am volunteering my time and service at no charge to the state.  When I get a database up and running, it will only take a short time to generate reports.  If there is a statistical basis for my concern, I will refer it to State of Utah officials.  If I find no statistical evidence, I will forget the whole thing and take to driving my rocking chair.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Driving Test

The most readily apparent problem with the above report is that the examiner labored just too hard to contrive failing results.  Nobody still living is really quite that bad of a driver.  Like winners of the Darwin Award, they all died in spectacular fiery crashes during an earlier driving test.

If I submit myself to this driving test again, the evaluation of my driving will necessarily be based on more objective evidence, not just the examiner's whimsical word.  I was naive in my expectation that "public service" employees would be somewhat impartial, even though that has not been my experience in the past.  Now that I understand that the State of Utah Drivers License Division is a hostile environment, I will not entertain such illusions again.

At the conclusion of the driving test on 20 Nov 2015, the examiner treated the occasion as a parochial scolding.  She never gave me a single opportunity to defend myself.  Instead she seemed more concerned about delivering a condescending lecture.  So I'll just post my refutation here instead...

Though it is boringly tedious and tendentious to look for objective evidence that directly contradicts the results of the driving test, I find little alternative.  I am entitled to defend myself from hostile attacks.

One of the details that was marked off on the test was (SL).  This is supposed to mean "stop line".  It seems rather odd to get checked off for violation when there is not a "stop line".

Since Drivers License employees presumably pass through the 800 N and 1370 W intersection multiple times every day, while they're serving as supposedly expert objective observers of driving behavior, I would think it reasonable to presume that they would be at least observant enough to know about this.  As it happens,  this particular absent "stop line" is just outside the examiners office window, but many other roads in Orem don't have any pavement markings at stop signs.

The Handbook brilliantly asserts that in the case of stop signs with no pavement markings, the driver must "stop before entering the intersection, but close enough to see traffic".  Of course I maintain that this is exactly what I did, simply because this has been my consistent habit since I was sixteen.

A good example of pavement markings can be seen at parking lot of the local supermarket.  But they're generally never found on public roads in Orem residential neighborhoods.  That would seem to make this particular "violation" cited by the examiner rather implausible.

Even casual perusal via the services of Google Earth provides an easy means to verify.

At the corner intersection of 1370 W, next to the Drivers License offices, the examiner reports that there was a "failure to yield" violation.  In fact the Google Earth view shows how unlikely this would be for this particular intersection.  The 800 N highway is effectively wide, has designated turn lanes for ingress and egress with the traffic lanes, and clear visibility for blocks.  The examiner could have picked a more plausible location for creating a "yield violation".

There is a Handbook illustration that is intended to show proper freeway entrance, but multilane highways should work the same way.  Stopping in the middle of the procedure is not one of the recommended steps.  Note that the sequence of instructions are, "plan", "speed up", "merge", "do not stop or slow down".  This is an apt description of the traffic manuver appropriate for entering a multilane highway, and the steps followed by this driver during the test.  Of course I initiated the process with appropriate complete stop at the stop sign, before beginning the turn. Perhaps the examiner saw something different.  Just like the pavement "stop line" violation she checked off.

One other "major" violation marked off is (SI), which is supposed to indicate that I neglected to operate turn signals properly, and this supposedly reflected my wanton disregard for safety.  From a twisted perspective, this may be the only marginally legitimate check-off on the failed test.

I tried to explain that for some operations like performing a U-turn, the hand controls and steering keep me busy.  In my judgement, I deemed that it would not be safe to take my hands off the controls at that moment to activate the turn signal.  In order to comply with the strict requirement for signalling while doing other things at the same time, I would have had to sacrifice control of the vehicle for a moment.  This situation was the rare exception.  In all other instances I signalled properly.

This goes toward the insensitive and dogmatic demeanor the examiner showed toward my handicapped status, in the rare instance where it did actually make a functional difference.  Okay, you're right, maybe once or twice, I didn't activate the turn signal, but only when it seemed somewhat more important to keep both hands on the controls.

The third major violation cited by the examiner was for consistently driving more than 10 mph UNDER the posted speed limit.  This makes a fascinating study, because the Utah Driver Handbook clearly states that the NUMBER ONE CAUSE of fatal crashes in the State is "speed too fast"!  In fact nearly half of crashes tracked by the State of Utah are attributed to driving TOO FAST!   The Handbook asserts further, "In Utah, there is a Basic Speed Law which states that you may never drive faster than is reasonably safe".  This particular driving test was conducted on a morning immediately following heavy overnight rainfall.  All pavement surfaces were wet, to the point of water running off.  One of the points listed in the Handbook where reduced speed is appropriate is "poor weather conditions".    But even though the Handbook asserts that reduced speeds would have been appropriate, driving too SLOW somehow paradoxically transformed into an egregious major safety violation.

Comment from the Orem Police Department...

"...Most drivers know they need to slow down when it's snowy or icy, but many don't recognize that even when roads are just wet, speed can have a serious negative impact on their safety."

Though this quote comes directly from a State of Utah Department of Public Safety publication, it would seem that the driving test as administered by the State of Utah Drivers License Division does not recognize it either.

Even if there had been ideal weather conditions, the Handbook does not specify any rule against traveling at reduced speed.  It doesn't seem to mention "speed too slow" as one of the primary factors that cause accidents.

Obviously, obstructing other traffic would be an appropriate basis for invoking this supposed "violation".  The Handbook advises, "do not drive so slowly that you become a source of danger on the road".  No such incident took place at any time during the driving test.  Fabricating a supposed violation out of casual driving that involves occasionally being in the traffic lane without instantly rocketing over the speed limit at every opportunity sounds like a rather ludicrous and inconsistent application of the speed limit rules.  In any case, if she had only let me know she was in such a big hurry to get somewhere, I would have been happy to speed up!

Prior to beginning the driving test, I told the examiner that due to the absolute constraints of my physical handicap, I was unable to effectively perform parallel parking.  She dismissed my assertion with casual unconcern, informing me breezily, "It's part of the test".  As if parallel parking contains some vital principle that informs safe driving.  After my protest I acceded to her insistence.  She penalized me anyway for failing to successfully perform the parallel parking test - as expected.

Other elements of the test are routinely omitted from the testing protocol out of consideration for known handicap limitations, but for some unknown reason the parallel parking exercise is mandatory and obligatory and cannot be omitted for handicapped drivers.

I suppose there may be some voyeuristic comic entertainment potential in forcing handicapped individuals to misperform.  I can only say that it did not appeal to my sense of humor.  In any case, I am perfectly willing to incur all the violation points that can possibly be mustered out of my failure to perform the parallel parking test, as long as all the other arbitrary restrictions, phony "requirements", and fabricated violations are withdrawn.  I would be happy to stipulate a restricted license that prohibits me from parallel parking, the Widowmaker Hill Climb, drag racing on State Street, driving to the top of Mt. Timpanogos, and any number of other things that I never attempt already.

The final point serves to emphasize - any particular principle that seems like a good idea can easily be dogmatically OVERemphasized to the extreme, beating it to death, to the point that it detracts from the very object it was intended to promote.  I hesitate to suggest that this phenomenon characterizes standard operating procedure of many government bureaucratic organizations, but in this case it seems unavoidable.

Specifically, the examiner indicates an "hc", a "head check" violation, in nearly every available little box on the driving test form - sometimes even more than once.  In fact she proudly asserted to me prior to the driving test that she fails 90% of her driving test candidates because they do not satisfy her demand to see their little swiveling heads constantly turning.

I see nothing unreasonable about the concept of the driver keeping aware of the surrounding traffic conditions.  But the ridiculous parody of drivers constantly swiveling their heads like an owl to survey 360 degrees is simply ludicrous, and the examiner gave the impression that nothing less was acceptable.

In fact there are many obvious cases where the "head check" - as described in proper Handbook protocol - would be totally ineffective and serve no purpose other than to distract the drivers attention from important priorities.  And in fact the Handbook cites "driver distraction" as one of the top causes of accidents on Utah roads.

One glaringly obvious example where dogmatic "head checks" would serve no purpose, and with which I have had years of personal operating experience.

Another example where no amount of "head check" will afford a clear view of surrounding traffic.  That's me on the right, sitting under the shade of the overhanging tank.   I drove this  5000 gallon water tender for the IVFD in Sanpete for several fire-fighting seasons.

Another common circumstance where an exaggerated "head check" is totally pointless.  I drove a pickup with camper for many years, on a regular basis.

In many cases, using mirrors is the only way to perform an effective "check".  This has been my habit for many years.

At this point I am no longer seeking a provisional or restricted driving privilege.  The driving test shows no objective basis for any of the arbitrary restrictions that I have accepted in the past.  I want to traverse the freeway and drive on highways, day or night, with the same freedom granted to "normal" drivers.  The State of Utah will need to show cause for any restrictions.

There are other objective evidences that could be raised, but I think this should suffice to support my suspicion that it is the examiner - representing official policy of discrimination by the State of Utah Drivers License Division - that really merits a failing grade.

And just exactly what institutional response should I expect to be forthcoming, prompted by such whining?  What I expect is more effective demonstration of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

As I understand it, filing a false report in the public records of the State of Utah is a Class B misdemeanor.

We must do something about this IMMEDIATELY!...


Among the restrictions listed on the provisional temporary license issued to me, I am prohibited from travel on roads with a posted speed limit over 40 mph.  This effectively makes it against the law for me to drive to my doctor's office, which is on University Parkway in Orem, and my hospital, Timpanogos Regional Medical Center, which is located on 800 North in Orem.   Interestingly, the provisional temporary permit also makes it illegal for me to drive to the State of Utah Drivers License Division offices, which are also located on 800 North in Orem.

When similar arbitrary and prohibitive driving restrictions were first imposed by the State of Utah Drivers License Division in Sanpete County, in 2009, they effectively prohibited me from driving beyond my own driveway. My rural home at the time was located on US Highway 89, where the speed limit is 55 mph. The nearest shopping and groceries were more than 15 miles away. The nearest medical facility was further.

When I raised this objection, they grudgingly modified the restriction so that I was permitted to legally drive to local shopping areas.

At the time I mistakenly thought this capricious bullying was originating from one specific person abusing her authority. Now, after similar incidents, I can see that it represents an institutional attitude.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

State of Utah Practices Institutional Discrimination against Handicapped

Discrimination is treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing is perceived to belong to rather than on individual merit.  This includes treatment of an individual or group based on their actual or perceived membership in a certain group or social category, "in a way that is worse than the way people are usually treated".  It involves the group's initial reaction or interaction going on to influence the individual's actual behavior towards the group leader or the group, restricting members of one group from opportunities or privileges that are available to another group, leading to the exclusion of the individual or entities based on logical or irrational decision making.

The State of Utah routinely discriminates against drivers with disabilities by subjecting them to unnecessary road tests and medical exams, and imposing arbitrary restrictions on their driving.

The Utah Drivers License Division applies its Medical Evaluation Program – meant to identify drivers with medical problems that might cause them to crash – to punish drivers who are capable and safe, but have a physical disability. The practice is based on stereotypes about people with disabilities, and it serves as a punitive imposition on those drivers, who must spend extra time and money proving they don’t pose a risk.
Presumed guilt unless and until they can prove innocence to the satisfaction of the State of Utah.

The State of Utah Drivers License Division presumes to interpret every possible evidence by their own privately held and arbitrary set of special rules. The propriety of their management of such concerns is not in question. The problem is a presumptive overreach that extends far beyond any reasonable measures. Such abusive bullying is clearly a violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

Obviously, disabled people over the years have endured being subjected to this institutional prejudicial discriminatory attitude. Though the State treats them capriciously, and bullies them into fearful submission, almost all fear to complain, as the State routinely threatens to restrict or revoke their licenses in reprisal.

The State commonly cites medical conditions affecting a person’s ability to drive as the cause of automobile accidents. But there is no evidence to substantiate the claim that drivers with orthopedic impairments, or who use adaptive hand controls, present any increased accident risk.

The State of Utah mandates that health care providers report when patients in their care are treated for any of the health conditions iterated on their list of politically-incorrect conditions. Once a driver is forced into the Drivers License “medical review” program, he or she remains there forever, without hope of reprieve. While in the program, drivers are routinely required to undergo special medical testing, and forced to provide documentation from doctors and therapists disclosing personal medical information that is otherwise supposed to be protected from such government prying. Handicapped people are routinely subject to a set of totally arbitrary special restrictions placed on their licenses. The State is not required to justify or substantiate, and generally gives the impression that there is no possible appeal from their permanent punitive measures.

Among the unjustified restrictions imposed against me personally by the State:
  • Limit maximum operating speed to roads with speed limit of 40 mph or less
  • Distance from home I am permitted to travel must be within a radius of 15 miles
  • Restricted to daytime driving
  • Prohibited from travel on freeways and interstates
  • Prohibited from travel in areas with higher speed limits
  • Restricted to operation of my own vehicles only when accompanied by a fully licensed “normal” driver
The State of Utah has already revoked my driving license, so there is really nothing they can do to impose further additional punitive measures or implement additional arbitrary restrictions. They have to be satisfied with fabricating results from the “driving test” that fail to qualify for their standard of drivers license renewal. I suspect they enjoy the feeling of smug moral superiority that derives from such abuse of the public trust.

A good place to address this problem would be to put a stop to the routine discrimination against drivers with disabilities based wholly on speculation, stereotypes and generalizations. The State of Utah is not entitled to act based on their suspicion that a particular driver MIGHT be dangerous. Either I am, or I am not. Prove it.

Since the State of Utah Drivers License Division has demonstrated an ingrained, institutional predisposition to such behavior, it would be fair and appropriate for their records to be regularly subjected to routine audit by an outside independent and objective auditing agent. This auditing must needs be conducted at random intervals selected by the auditor and unannounced to the management, so that the Drivers License Division is unable to easily falsify or sequester appropriate documentation.

It might also be effective for the State to intervene with at least temporary qualified independent management oversight, since the abuse of public trust is apparently found through all levels of this bureaucratic institution. These discriminatory practices are obviously not the fault of any one particular individual, although I have met certain people who exhibit the greatest enthusiasm for pursuing the job of punishing handicapped people. Perhaps some of them fully believe that they are just doing their duty. And that is probably the most unfortunate aspect of all these problems.

The State of Utah publishes an elaborate and comprehensive summary showing numerous charts and statistics regarding all motor vehicle accidents.  There are no graphics or statistics to substantiate the prejudice against handicapped drivers, though there are other circumstances which are clearly related to the incidence of traffic accidents.

Apparently they don't really bother to read their own reports.

Overall, a general attitude seems to prevail in  the State of Utah Drivers License Division that is so aptly and succinctly characterized by one of their recent public service ad campaigns.

In my case there is an implied comma after the injunction.

They seem to be saying, we automatically assume a priori that the people we work for are stupid, and treat them accordingly.  And of course, that prejudice goes double for handicapped individuals.  The contemptuous and parochial posturing apparently informs this attitude and the institutional policy that formalizes it

More about the driving test results...