The governor of the state of Georgia has said that, due to the current pandemic situation, people can get their driver’s licenses without actually taking a road test. This has naturally horrified many people because driving puts you in command of a lethal weapon. As any driver will tell you, even when you take driving lessons, spend some time getting practice, and then pass the test, the first few months of driving alone tend to be nervous periods because safe driving habits have not as yet become instinctive. To not have to take the test at all just makes it that much worse.
Sarah Casto is a driving instructor with 1st Stop Georgia Driving Academy in Henry County. She says knowing that some people are legally getting behind the wheel without having to pass a road test terrifies her.
She says she worries about the teens but is also afraid for the adults who’ve never had a license before. She says about one-third of their students are adults.
“They’ve never driven before and they won’t sign up for lessons until they fail the test 3 or 4 times, then they come by lessons. Well now they don’t have to do that, they can just go get their license,” said Casto.
This story reminded me of when I got my first driver’s license back in Sri Lanka, when I was in college. My family did not own a car at that time so I had learn and practice on my brother-in-law’s car, which happened to be an Austin Healey Sprite, a sports car, which is not the best car to put a new young driver at the wheel of, even though we young guys thought it looked cool and would impress girls and make them think we were attractive. (It didn’t.)
But in Sri Lanka (at the time at least) you could not choose when to get the road test. After you applied, the Department of Motor Vehicles would assign you a date and time. Since my brother-in-law worked out of town, coming back only for the weekends and Mondays, I needed to have the test on a Monday. When I told my father about this problem, he said he could fix it. The head of the DMV was an old college buddy of his and he called him up to ask him if I could have my test scheduled for a Monday. That person replied, “Is the license for your son? Tell him not to worry, I’ll just issue him a license without a test.” My father was horrified and having none of it. He said that if I should ever get into a serious accident, he did not want to have that on his conscience and he insisted that I be tested and that I pass the test. So I got the test on a Monday.
Driving is a privilege not a right. It has to be earned. And passing a written test of the rules and a road driving test is the minimum level of competency that should be demonstrated before being allowed to risk the lives of others on the road.
I fully agree. At age 18, a few weeks after getting my driver’s license, I managed to drive a bump into the roof of my parents’ VW Beetle. A haematoma on my shoulder from the safety belt reminded me afterwards that I am not immortal.
Even Beetles with wheels get back on their ‘feet’ after rolling over, but VW probably did not build them for that purpose. 😉
Sound like buying a gun in the US.
A ’47 Plymouth with 3-on-the-tree was what my Dad taught me how to drive when I was 13. At 15, I had a job at a small airport as janitor/fuel truck driver. Filling up small planes when they landed. The truck engine didn’t like 105 octane aviation fuel so I drove 6 1/2 miles to a filling station on county gravel roads and a paved state highway. The job made it possible to learn how to fly on my dime and I soloed at 16. Received a state issued drivers licence at 18. Great fun being a teenager in the ’60’s until I found myself in Vietnam at 19.
John Morales says
Don’t get me started.
Driving tests test whether you can pass driving tests, not whether you can drive.
(Much like blood alcohol tests test whether you exceed the prescribed BAC, not whether you can drive sufficiently safely)
Heh. I started out driving tractors, and the first time I drove a car (manual of course), I tried stopping between shifting gears. As you generally do on a farm tractor. I stalled that car quite a few times that day…. eventually I got the hang of it.
On the other hand, when I first rented a car in Turkey and saw the manual choke control, I knew exactly how to handle that.
I think I understand what you mean, but I still hate this phrasing. Driving a car on a public road is a right. It’s a licensed right, but it’s a right. The government must issue a driver’s license to people who fulfill the licensing criteria, and the licensing criteria must be reasonably tailored for some public benefit. In other words, for example, the DMV official cannot say to someone “no driver’s license for you because you gave me a dirty look”.
Thankfully, this sort of legal philosophy is also the law of the United States. See SCOTUS Bell vs Burson.
Japan has a term for people with licences but never drive: paper drivers.
Kemp is a republiclown and took part in 2018 voter suppression, demanding ID. This “law” could be used against them, allowing people who don’t know how nor plan to drive to obtain valid ID. They should be encouraged to sign up.
In Texas you can get a state ID that doesn’t confer the legal ability to drive.
Of course you can still have the same difficulties in getting a state identity card as you do with getting a drivers license.
When I was a teenager we had an old neighbor lady who had a late-forties Packard of the all-steel utterly indestructible sort. She had been issued a driver’s license in the 20’s (or teens?) when you just went downtown and asked for one. She was the Terror of Bentonville -- if you saw her coming, you could either turn off the street or just fervently hope that she would miss you.
A new local policeman was once assigned the job of giving her some driving lessons, and was said to have come back and said “Chief, YOU teach her!!”