DMV Reaches Out To Senior Drivers
Office of Public Affairs
2415 First Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95814
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2011
DMV Senior Driver Ombudsman Program Prepares for Silver Tsunami!
Sacramento –To see the "Graying of California," just look at the driver sitting in the car next to you. Senior citizens are one of the fastest-growing age groups cruising down California roads and highways. In fact, within the next 10 years, the number of drivers, 65 and older, is expected to nearly double to six million! In 20 years, 20 percent of all drivers in the state will be seniors.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is committed to keeping those experienced drivers as mobile as possible, for as long as possible and it is accomplishing that through its unique and successful Senior Ombudsman Office. For the past five years, it has been arming seniors with empowering information and critical learning tools to keep them driving safely!
"This program is still the first and only one of its kind in the nation," said DMV Director George Valverde. "We are proud of the way the Ombudsman Office has enabled California to more effectively deal with a hugely important segment of our current customer base - older drivers. The office is playing a critical role in helping to formulate strategies to meet the future needs of baby boomers, who will comprise an even larger segment of the driving public within the next 15 years."
In early 2006, the DMV tapped Charley Fenner to be its Senior Ombudsman. The 73-year old was the perfect choice to develop this innovative outreach program, since he was a long time DMV employee who could personally relate to the senior population. He is still leading the charge!
"A lot of older drivers believe if they have any contact with the DMV, it is because we want to take away their license and mobility, and that is simply not the case," stressed Fenner. "We are here to listen. Most people, especially seniors, just want to have somebody pay attention to their issues; they want to express themselves without being marginalized or stereotyped."
Fenner said; "Seniors will be given a fair shake and we will do everything possible to make sure they understand the reasons behind any issue that may impact their driving privileges."
Fenner's five-person staff -- each of whom is located in or near major metropolitan areas of California -- has extensive backgrounds as DMV employees; including managing DMV offices, giving drive tests, and working in the department's Driver Safety Branch.
John Locher, an ombudsman who works with Fenner in the Sacramento office said; "I believe we should help seniors find their comfort level with restricted licenses, so they can safely drive on streets near their homes, to go shopping, to their doctor's office or church." He added; "The fact is, many older drivers have already restricted themselves—they don't drive on freeways, in strange areas or after dark. We can help them, their kids and grandchildren work through that process."
Locher also pointed out that there are organizations, like California AAA and AARP, which offer courses that give seniors valuable tips and may even provide a confidence boost.
Fenner said the Senior Ombudsman Office staff has made more than 3,000 personal contacts since its creation and has worked closely with law enforcement agencies throughout the state to provide training and insight about senior drivers.
In an attempt to reach even more seniors and their families, the Senior Driver Ombudsman Program is offering an informative "Senior Forum."
May 27: 10AM
E. M. Hart Senior Center
915 27th Street
Sacramento, CA 95816
May 31: 1PM
Josyln Adult Center
1301 West Olive Avenue
Burbank, CA 91506
Fenner and his staff can be contacted by going online at www.dmv.ca.gov , selecting the "Seniors" button on the tool bar in the upper right-hand corner of the home page, then clicking on "Senior Ombudsman Program."
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