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.