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Kansas Cancels Licenses of Blind Drivers (1962)

(This story was originally written and recorded for Podcast #65, released on August 19, 2013.)

It was announced on April 6, 1962, by L. A. Billings, the then superintendent of the Kansas State Motor Vehicle Department, that 128 blind people throughout the state currently held driver’s licenses.

This finding was released after an article appeared a few weeks earlier in the newspaper that compared the list of Kansas men who were legally blind with those who held licenses. The story’s author, Ray Wingerson, estimated that about 5% of the legally blind men in the state held driver’s licenses. Some were still driving, while most just renewed their licenses for identification purposes.

How was a blind man able to get a driver’s license? This was all due to a glitch in the law. It turns out that any driver in the state that had received their license before the current licensing laws went into effect in 1949, could simply renew their licenses without having to pass an eye test.

He said that letters were immediately sent to 103 of the blind drivers to notify them that their licenses had been canceled. There was no mention of why the other 25 blind drivers were allowed to keep their licenses.

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