Thursday, December 15, 2011

Do you really know how to drive?

LuckyChow99 left a comment to my Tuesday's post:
It doesn't help that you can get driver license (here in Georgia) by taking the road test in a parking lot.
That made me think - do most people even know how to drive?

I remember my first driving test ever - 16 years ago in Poland. There were 3 parts:
1. The usual written test with 30 multiple choice questions where more than one answer could have been correct. Most questions were about various road situations, especially on intersections, presented in simple drawings where I had to decide, which vehicle should yield to others, etc. I was allowed to make only 1 mistake (And I did).
2. The second part was a parking lot driving, where I had to parallel park, back into a garage, start uphill (The test car had a manual transmission, naturally), etc.
3. Third part was finally a road test in regular city traffic.
I didn't pass the first time since my parallel parking was less than perfect.

Years later, I decided to get a Massachusetts driver license. Out of 20 multiple choice questions, easily half of them were related to alcohol. I still keep wondering what is the benefit of knowing the maximum fine a person under 21 would have to pay for having an opened beer bottle in the car? I always thought that knowing how to respond to various road conditions is the most important part of every driving test. Well, apparently not in U.S. In this country, it is much more important to know how to safely transport a six pack than safely transport people.
I nearly failed that test, since I had to guess many of those stupid questions that didn't even apply to me (I was well over 21 at that time).

The road test was a joke as well. Mr. Policeman seeing me being familiar with the car, stopped me after driving just a few meters and decided that I was only wasting his time.

Seeing all this, I am 99% sure that no American would pass Polish driver license test. Of course, this doesn't mean that in Poland we know how to drive. Quite the opposite. How many people know how to really control their cars? Many more in Finland than in Poland or U.S. for sure.
Since having a driver's license in 21st century America became as important as owning a revolver in 19th century Wild West, I wonder - did we make it too accessible? Maybe 17 year old drivers should really learn how to drive before using their fathers' 3-tonne trucks? Maybe if we refocus test questions on what is really important, drivers would know what to do when they get to a 4-way stop?

Considering this, it would be safer to put all these drivers on bicycles. At least they would move slower and had less chance to kill anyone.

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