From: Pat Hamilton <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Mon, 6 Nov 1995 01:37:16 GMT I believe driver training in this country is apalling. In many states there is no road test at all. I am a pilot and believe that if the same type of recurrency training was done for drivers as is done for pilots the number of fatalities on the roads would drop dramatically. I would be strongly in favor of recurrency training being required as a condition of license renewal every 10 years or so. This would be perhaps a required "check ride" with a driving instructor during which the skills of the driver would be reviewed. If any were found to be lacking, renewal would not be allowed until some retraining was completed. We have people on the road that have been driving for decades without any schooling as to rule changes or changes in the numbers of vehicles on the roads or the increased complexity of the cars they're driving. What we learn once we are licensed in this country we learn "on the fly" No wonder there are so many killed each year. Cigarettes kill their share and the political types scream. Aids kills it's share and the country rallies for a cure. Thousands die each year on the roads as a direct result of our failure to properly train drivers for the increasingly difficult task of maneuvering busier and busier highways and nobody says a word. Something is wrong here. Driving is a privelege, not a right. I believe that if a person is unable to pass basic review tests every so often they do not belong on the roads with us and our children. A recurrency test program could spawn a whole industry of instructors who would also be empowered to "sign-off" on a driver. The individual states would not need to do the testing or be otherwise burdened by the process. As an example, when I need a check ride to renew my flying priveleges, it costs maybe 50 or 60 dollars for the dual time and this includes the use of the airplane. Surely such a small outlay every ten years or so would be a small price for each of us to pay for the safer highways we would certainly enjoy. Think about it. From: Mark W. Hill <email@example.com> Date: Mon, 8 Jul 1996 17:00:58 -0400 (EDT) I just read that 80+% of drivers think they're better than average drivers, yet, 80+% of drivers think most other drivers on the road are terrible. What does this say about us? I've spoken with numerous people lately who "occupy" the left lane at rediculously slow speeds. Their comment: "Hey, I pay my taxes and have as much right as you to the roads"! Now, isn't that quaint! Again, we have an issue of rights, but no mention of responsibility. Let's examine the German experience. 20 years ago they had 19,000+ fatalities on the autobahn. 20 years later, they have less than 7,500+ (and with more drivers and faster average speeds!) This 60+% decrease in their fatalities is due to very stringent drivers training, strict seat belt and DWI laws, and a vehicle inspection system that is "intollerant"! (Funny how "intollerance" saves lives!) They have more hours behind the wheel including cross country on the autobahn and night driving, behind the wheel. A very elaborate class room and practical driving and Crash Avoidance training round out the many hours of classroom and "behind the stick", for a cost of $1,500 average to get a license. Yet, they have no speed limit and a lower fatality rate per mile driven than we do in the USA. Fact. What has the NHTSA said about this? Well, go to the NMA page on www.motorists.com and check it out. The NHTSA erroneously pulished artificially high fatality rates for the autobahn by publishing only the former East German stats. They have, however, issued a letter of apology (only recently) to the NMA. Locally, the news is in on it. They continually "tow the party line" by always having the highway patrol on saying "slow down, wear your seat belts, and don't drink and drive". OK, yet, I've seen many a slow motorist careen into the left lane from a merging lane (running whoever was in the left lane into the median), then establish a below the limit pace with the right lane, effectively creating a road block. The highway patrol is many times in visual range of this, but they do nothing. We've had many recent fatalities on 4 lanes roads created by people whipping into the left lane and running someone into the median, although they still weren't doing the speed limit. The media will not get into this. They tow the party line that slower is safer, and report on speed limits, while showing fatalities that occured in areas having nothing to do with highway speeds. I have a professional license in our state and if any of my clients complain, the state will pull it hastily. Yet offending motorist with licenses are not held accountable as the system wants everyone to keep ingnorant so they can promote revenue collecting enforcement actions. From: Matthew T. Russotto <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Fri, 17 Nov 1995 20:28:00 GMT Sure, it's a joke -- my driver's test consisted of parallel parking and a bunch of right turns. Some people FAIL this test, and not just the parking part! Which brings me to the problem: People need to drive. Pretty much any place outside a city center, you need a car just to do mundane tasks such as picking up groceries (especially in bad weather). And as long as people need cars, you can't have a training and testing system that's going to exclude anyone. It just isn't politically and practically feasible. Besides, I like to drive and am therefore opposed to any system which would exclude me (like requiring good times on SCCA Solo II type courses) From: Bob Morrow <email@example.com> Date: Tue, 12 Dec 95 23:12:04 -0800 I'm amazed that we even bother with driver's licenses in this country. A license to be a (doctor, lawyer, barber, etc) means you are qualified in some way to do whatever that license is for. Can we honestly say that with today's licensing exams? We're halfway there to the "no-license" condition, let's take it all the way. When I took my driver's ed. course in 1980 in western NY, the classroom instructor (who's day job was as an English teacher at the local high school) told us he cut the seatbelts out of his car because he considered them dangerous! I believe in seatbelts and they've saved me at least once. Good thing his views didn't carry the day. The road test was a waste of time. Never did we get over 35 mph nor did we go more than 10 miles. However, I had to use hand signals and do parallel parking. Good grief, who does parallel parking in suburbia? That's why we have parking lots. To this day I avoid parallel parking. For reasons I've since forgotten, I failed the test the first time. Probably didn't use hand signals. (Gee..) Fish or cut bait, America. Make the test mean something or get rid of licenses altogether. From: Randolph M. Eccles <RE@wow.com> Date: Tue, 23 Apr 1996 19:40:08 -0400 (EDT) In my business and many others the "80/20" theory applies: 80% of revenue comes from the top 20% of accounts. It seems that this theory or something close to it could also apply to driving: 80% of accidents, obstructions, and other problems of consequence are caused by the worst 20% of drivers. I truly believe that 15 to 25% of the drivers out there should NOT have a license. The testing and qualification standards should be raised a great deal. Driving without a license should be punished severely. I drive 35 to 40 thousand miles a year, usually at an illegally high rate of speed- never a ticket or accident. From: Jeff Guida <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 20:50:38 GMT I have a simple solution for the ridiculous driving tests used by states today. The autocross. Set an upper time limit for the course and require every driver to beat it in order to get a license. It could be scaled according to the car driven just as the SCCA does. The skill required to pass the test is just what almost every US driver lacks - the ability to control a vehicle at the limit. Much more relevant than the ability to parallel park. From: Dan Calle <email@example.com> Date: Mon, 11 Dec 1995 08:53:10 -0500 I definitely agree. My driver's-ed class in high school wasn't bad - we did actually go out and drive on all types of roads (those available in central Virginia anyway). There was no driving in bad conditions but that's pretty much left to chance...I took the driving part of the class in late Spring. But the driving test to get my license was absolutely *pathetic*. I drove out of the parking lot, drove around the block, stopped at a stop sign, drove back into the parking lot, and backed the car into an angled parking space. This is in the sparsely populated residential area around the DMV Lynchburg, VA. It was so short and so easy, I could have shown up to the test dead drunk and passed without difficulty (unless they smelled it on my breath or something). Ridiculous. A friend of mine failed this test twice. There's no limit to how much or how often you fail it either...just manage to pass it once and they hand you a license. I freely admit that from the ages of 16-20, I was a bad driver. I drove too fast and without much skill - I had the reflexes and agility of a teenager of course, but real driving skill, a good awareness of the traffic around me, the conditioned reflexes to deal with trouble, and the right kinds of alertness, eluded me for years. Then I had a nasty traffic accident shortly before my 21st birthday. It wasn't my fault but were the same circumstances to occur today, I probably would have avoided it or at least greatly diminished its severity. I then drove much more cautiously, but still without skill (or so my parents relate) for a couple of months longer. But somewhere in the next six months or so, I found the skill. I now consider myself a very good driver, and my parents (very good, safe drivers) agree with this. My point? I want a driving test that would have kept someone like me off the road, driving only with a licensed adult driver in the passenger seat, until I learned more safely the lessons I ended up learning in a severe car accident that could have killed me. The current test only checks to see if you can get in a car and drive it for 10 minutes without crashing. What about drivers like the 16-year old me who could drive forever without crashing....until something took me by surprise and I didn't react properly to it? I would have reacted, and reacted quickly, but with completely unschooled reflexes. The test would include things like: putting you in an unfamiliar car, taking you to a slick road surface, and telling you to take a particular turn at a particular speed and sitting back and letting you figure out how to deal with the resulting skid. A test like this would not only have forced me to learn beforehand how to deal with unexpected situations under non-ideal conditions, it would probably have given me a head-start on learning the more subtle driving skills that make me a good driver today, if only because I would have taken driving more seriously. The fee for such an elaborate test would also be pretty high - thus making it unattractive for people to take the test repeatedly until they passed it. They'd try to get it right the first time and, if they didn't, they'd make damn sure they did the second. Unlike the friend I mentioned above who took the test three times in three days...she must have passed basically by trial-and-error, not something you want to see in someone piloting a ton of fast-moving steel and plastic. Another point, I don't understand how anyone can get a license without having had a learner's permit first. How can any sane person justify giving a full driver's license to someone who has never had the right to drive legally anywhere but their own property? From: Dick Kanda Date: Sun, 21 Jan 1996 16:58:08 GMT Let's look at the linkage of drivers training and speed limits. Our speed limits are too low for people who follow the rules of the road and know how to drive. In other words, I have no problem with opening up the speed limits if and only if we also demand better training with regard to and adherence with proper driving procedures. People should be ticketed for not driving in the right (starboard) lane, not using turn signals, not yielding to the right hand car at stops, etc. There is also a linkage to speed and condition of the automobile involved. Inspection standards should be rigorous in their application as well as enforcement. In other words brakes, steering, tires, suspension, lights, belts, bags, signals, etc. should be in top notch condition or the car is not on the road. If such is car is on the road, it should be impounded until repaired and the driver and owner fined. Well trained and responsible drivers in well maintained automobiles are what we need along with higher speed limits (if any). Treat the issue holistically and we could be "safe at virtually any speed." From: Richard Rogers <RR2895@student.law.duke.edu> Date: Sat, 21 Oct 1995 17:54:25 -0400 Maybe so, but nobody I know learned strictly from behind-the-wheel. I know I spent a lot more time driving with my dad before I got my license (and before I took behind the wheel), including a trip to New York up the Jersey Turnpike. Maybe that's why I was used to ignoring the speed limit by the time I got my license...I learned from my dad! :-) In behind-the-wheel, they almost NEVER take you on the highway (I was on the Beltway once). Considering the number of people who spend most of their time on the highway, that's absurd! I think I learned a lot more from my dad than I did in behind-the-wheel. (This was some six years ago.) From: Bob Baldesari <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Sat, 13 Jan 1996 23:27:36 GMT Traffic education is a joke. I live in Maryland. Many drivers (young and old alike) have no idea what the lines in the road mean. They don't realize that you don't cross a solid line. They don't understand what a YIELD sign means and, worst of all they don't observe STOP signs and RED lights. It is sad because many lives are lost each year to people running red lights. We need to slow down where the traffic needs to be slow; but, keep up the speed where it is safe to do so. Unfortunately it comnes down to common sense. Many drivers don't have any. Courtesy is another lost art. Thanks. From: Felix Bartl <email@example.com> Date: Sat, 18 Nov 1995 23:45:07 GMT Couldn't agree more. The driving test should be much, much tougher. It should include both city and freeway driving. But beware of making driving schools compulsory. They'll turn into mere cash cows soon enogh, just not (only) for the government, but for the business. We should just make the test hard, and how the drivers acquire the necessary skill is their problem. From: Dan Parker <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Wed, 15 Nov 1995 09:08:04 GMT I absolutely agree. I did my drivers ed. training less than three years ago and it was a total farce. We drove around in circles and learned nothing we couldn't have learned from a video game. Skid training consisted of being told (on the last day, I believe) to "steer into the skid." This means nothing, of couse, unless you've actually been in one. From what friends have told me, this experience was not unique to my drivers ed. school. They are all fairly similar. Were it not for SCCA autocrossing that I started this year, I would still in the "point-the-car-and-give-it-gas" mode of driving, which is the -real- reason so many kids kill themselves on the country's roads. From: Robert W. Rood <Rood@glerl.noaa.gov> Date: Wed, 1 Nov 1995 20:03:34 GMT You are indeed correct in saying the typical driver's education curriculum is lacking. I, personally, have taken Skip Barber's two-day High Performance Driving School and then an advanced activity Car Control Clinic. Even so, there is alot I still need to learn. One of the big problems of normal driver's ed is that it fails to show a student their real capabilities. I, for one, was always confident of my driving ability (who isn't?) until I took these advanced classes. With the help of Racing School instructors, I was able to better appreciate my "limits" and RESPECT them. The beauty is, I now enjoy driving far more today, because I constantly practice and improve those areas where I previously had problems. I had the opportunity to drive with "real" race car drivers who proved to me that smoothness is fast, and I assure you, we could all benefit from such instruction. I'm from Michigan(snow and ice driving), and I was NEVER taught skid control until Skip Barber. Something is VERY wrong with this... From: Todd G. Westlie <email@example.com> Date: Sat, 18 Nov 1995 15:05:19 GMT Isn't it funny how little most people really know about driving? Thank the sorry state of our so-called "drivers ed." for that. I totally agree with the need for better training. I am a graduate of The Bondurant School (4-day Grand Prix and two-day advanced road racing) and all I can say is that it's the best thing I've ever done for myself! From: Harley H. Dietrich, Jr. <HD51547885@aol.com> Date: Thu, 16 Nov 1995 05:21:41 GMT My daughter started driving last September and I was scared to death. Although she passed her written test at 15 and drove with me for a complete year, I still felt uneasy when she climbed behind the wheel, fastened her seat belt, adjusted the mirror, fixed her hair, played with the radio, and drove away. Call me crazy, but who's watching out for her now? This uneasy feeling prompted me to start The Watchful Eyes. Association. Soon to be a nonprofit organization and endorsed by the North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Committee, this program will help all of us keep an eye on our youngsters. Much like the community watch program, where neighbors join together to protect loved ones while in our neighborhoods, Watchful Eyes. help observe and protect while on the road. The program is simple: it provides a Responsible Driver's Agreement for the family members and a "How's my driving ... MY PARENTS WANT TO KNOW... call 1-800 Tel-Them" bumper sticker for our subscriber's vehicles. The Agreement, between the teenager and parents, sets expectations, makes promises, and delivers rewards and is best implemented just as the child turns 15 and is issued their permit. The bumper sticker, applied shortly there after, alerts other drivers to drive defensively and provides a 1-800 number for anonymous reports by concerned people, this helps insure unconditional accountability. Everyone--parents, teachers, and any concerned citizens--will help keep us informed by reporting our teenager's positive and negative driving habits. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16 and 17 year old drivers have twice the fatality rate of older teenagers and four times the rate of adults. Earlier this year, the Cary News suggested that this program, coupled with the pending changes in licensing, might save some lives. I developed the program to help protect our children and alleviate some of the stress experienced while they begin to mature.
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