Teen drivers hit the road as DMV resumes behind-the-wheel tests: Roadshow

Q: After seeing the positive comments about the DMV, I would be remiss if I didn’t add my own story. My teen secured a behind-the-wheel appointment at El Cerrito earlier in the fall. Everyone we encountered at this office was professional, efficient and courteous. Their check-in process was thorough but quick and the check-out included sincere praise for the new driver.

Ellen Kumar, San Ramon

A: That was a nice compliment. Starting today, the DMV is resuming behind-the-wheel driving tests statewide and will automatically reschedule appointments and send notifications. DMV anticipates new appointments for behind-the-wheel tests will be available in mid-February once previously postponed tests have been rescheduled.

This automatic extension requires no paperwork but requires everyone who enters a DMV office to wear a face covering, practice physical  distancing, respond to health screening questions and have their temperature checked.

Q: I am so distressed by how fast some drivers are going these days. How do we get them to slow down?

Fred Lattner, San Jose

A: Read this: Safety groups say while the auto industry has made tremendous gains making vehicles more crashworthy, a new study from AAA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows how rising speeds are canceling out those safety advances, with deadly consequences.

Even small increases in speed can cause major, traumatic injuries and turn survivable crashes into lethal ones. During the pandemic, this problem has only worsened and our roads have turned into speedways.

Speeding is especially deadly for teen drivers. They are more likely than any other age group to die in speeding-related crashes. Most teens do not start out speeding, but as they gain confidence behind the wheel, their speeds often increase. For teens, keeping up with traffic – even if it means going well over the speed limit – becomes the norm. Therefore, as speeds rise, so too does the risk for the most inexperienced drivers.

Q: My wife was driving south on Almaden Expressway near Blossom Hill Road, waiting at the light to make a U-turn across from the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

It was pouring rain and when she made the U-turn, she bashed the middle of the chassis into some new curb extensions they recently added. The body shop said it would be $1,400 to repair. My insurance person said he is besieged with claims just like this on the expressway.

Do I have any recourse?

N.R., San Jose

A: Dial up the county to file a claim. A portion of the expressway is going to be paved this spring. In preparation, the curb needs to be raised to maintain a 6-inch height.

Join Gary Richards for an hourlong chat noon Wednesday at www.mercurynews.com/live-chats. Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@bayareanewsgroup.com or 408-920-5335.

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Author: Gary Richards