In “Merge, right?” and “Honest, officer, I didn’t see it coming,” I ventured the opinion that the State of Illinois does not set the licensing bar for automobile drivers high enough, and offered Britain’s system of testing drivers as an improvement.
I did, however, note that Britain’s driver standards are not at all the toughest in Europe. Today I see that Steve Huntingford, the cars editor – yes, children, you can grow up to be such a thing – of the Telegraph newspaper, explains why. He was reacting to the fact that a driver hogging the passing lane was fined the equivalent of nearly $1600 and assessed five penalty points on his license. The fine was unusual, and Huntingford believes it shouldn’t be, as the practice there is widespread.
The trouble is the reason many people look for any excuse not to change lanes is because they lack the confidence to do so. And that is down to the inadequacies of the current driving test, which simply doesn’t prepare people for many of the challenges they’ll face on the road, be it driving on motorways, in bad weather or at night. This has big safety implications.
A study by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory suggests that a move to a graduated licensing system, where learner drivers don’t qualify for a full license after passing their test, but instead have to log 120 hours in different conditions, would “result in annual savings of 4,471 casualties” for drivers between 17 and 19 years old.
In fact, graduated driving licenses were primed to replace the current system following the last Government’s own research, before politics got in the way, with them putting it on the backburner for fear of scaring off some voters.
Ah, yes. Drivers vote – another complex act which we allow people to perform in public without sufficient proof that they can do it. So the next time you’re stuck on the interstate behind some dawdler, don’t blame him. Blame Democracy.