We can notify DMV about unfit drivers
Let's be honest, New York State is not going to mandate retesting elderly drivers. The state determined that age is not an adequate indicator of one's ability to drive, that singling out elderly drivers would be discriminatory and that the cost of retesting would not be worth the expenditure.
So how does New York get unfit drivers off the road? When notified, the Department of Motor Vehicles will retest anyone who is presented as not mentally, emotionally or physically able to operate a motor vehicle. The problem is, no one seems to know how or when to notify the DMV to have a driver retested.
The DMV looks first to medical personnel. Doctors, physician assistants and nurses know the mental, emotional and physical ability of their patients and are asked under law to notify the DMV (form DS-6) if patients are not able to drive. We need medical personnel to step up and notify the DMV more often.
Police officers are also charged with notifying the DMV (form DS-7) when they encounter unfit drivers. At every accident site and after every routine stop, it is their responsibility to go the extra step, make a professional decision and notify the DMV about unfit drivers they encounter.
Here is where it gets hard. We, too, are asked to notify the DMV (form DS-7) if we think our mother, father, child or neighbor is unfit to drive. This is often personal and difficult, but essential. Please notify the DMV today if someone you know needs to be retested.
If we all start using the system that is in place, we won't have to talk about at what age drivers need to be retested because the unfit drivers of every age will already be off the road.
Christopher J. Duquin
Owner, Stevens Driving School
E-ZPass violators hurt other motorists
I recently moved to the Buffalo area and am currently battling New York State over an E-ZPass violation. Since I've been here, I have observed two vehicles use the E-ZPass toll lane without having an E-ZPass transponder. I hadn't witnessed that in other states. The first one was a motorcycle in front of my vehicle. Apparently the camera photographed my car instead of the motorcycle. Now the state says I owe $3.15 for the toll, and $25 for the violation fee. In fact, my E-ZPass account recorded that I paid 15 cents as I drove through the toll lane.
People, please don't assume that when you drive through an E-ZPass toll lane without an E-ZPass account that you are stiffing New York State. More likely, you are causing unnecessary trouble for the driver behind you, an innocent party who has nothing to do with the tolls, fees and taxes you pay to the state.
Coleen A. Hanna
LED lights endanger health, environment
Artificial lighting keeps us safe, lights our homes and streets, and extends our productive hours past sunset. Most of us are so accustomed to nighttime lighting that we barely register its presence. But when it disappears, in a blackout for example, we suddenly realize that we are bathed in light from dusk to dawn. The degree to which we light up our communities demands we do it right.
Recently, in the Buffalo Niagara region, lighting fixtures with a harsh, blue-white light have been making inroads on traditional fixtures. The harsh light is produced by a metal halide or LED bulb. You may have first noticed these light fixtures some years ago, when car manufacturers began installing them in headlights. Now they are appearing in our neighborhoods and parks. Some prefer the blue-white light for its "clean" look, which contrasts with the warm, yellow glow cast by sodium lighting.
Metal halide and LED light fixtures present health and environmental concerns. Their blue-white light occupies a portion of the spectrum known to interfere with the circadian rhythms (day-night cycles) of animals and humans. Many studies, including a 2007 report for the National Institute of Health, link blue-white light with negative health effects, including breast cancer. Blue-white light also produces 20 percent more radiant sky glow than traditional fixtures, obscuring the night sky for stargazers. Eye experts agree that the glare of blue-white light is unsuitable for most nighttime uses and is particularly challenging for senior citizens. And the energy efficiency of blue-white lighting fixtures is offset by the need to deploy more, lower-powered fixtures to reduce glare.
Nighttime lighting is here to stay. But we should step lightly when it comes to embracing metal halide and LED lighting fixtures. Such lights pose serious risks that could outweigh their benefits.
Children shouldn't be afraid to go to school
It's about time something is being done about bullying. My son was bullied in grade school and high school. One principal said that he needed to toughen up, so she allowed it to happen while asking what I could donate and how much time I could volunteer at school functions. I was there almost every week looking for her to stop the bullying because the teachers and the parents did nothing to stop it.
I thought it would stop in high school, but it didn't. My son came home with male genitalia drawn on his new dress shirt, and the vice principal and guidance counselor said there was nothing they could do, even though we knew who did it. Now he is in college, excelling with his studies. He has many friends, but he still carries the scars of what he endured in grade school and high school. This never should have happened.
I sent my son to school to learn and study and no one cared. You have no idea the joy I have in my heart that laws may be passed to punish the bullies. No parent should have to go through what we went through. My heart goes out to Jamey Rodemeyer's parents, and all the parents who lost a child to this. We need to end bullying because our children are our future. Take out the bullies and let our children grow. Children shouldn't be afraid to go to school and learn and we shouldn't be afraid to send them there.
Nursing home taxes add a serious burden
Last April, my husband was admitted to a nursing home. Like many others, he is not eligible for Medicaid. Nursing home care is very expensive. When I reviewed my bill, I found out a New York State tax was added. I will have to pay an additional $758.88 every month. I find this unconscionable.
It is heartbreaking when your loved one will never be home again, and to add this tax to the most vulnerable seems so greedy. My friends were shocked, and I feel you will be, too. I ask that readers notify their legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to repeal this tax. You never know, this could happen to you.