Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Off With Their Licenses!

I’m not a peaceful driver, and living in Northern Virginia, I am daily faced with some of the worst and most aggressive driving in North America. It may be proximity to the political infighting in the nearby nation’s capital, or the fact that, living inside route 495, the infamous Beltway, I am constantly challenged by rude, frustrated people whose favorite hobby is driving like idiots and skirting accidents.

Whatever. I'm not a pleasant person to drive with. My constantly running voice-over on the shortcomings of other operators, be they humble commuters or belligerent truckers can get irritating. The situation is made worse when night falls, when it rains, or when—Heaven help us—both happen simultaneously. Then the zombies, vampires, werewolves, golems and other monsters take to the road and no one is safe.

My friend S, a beautiful smart woman close to my heart and with many good opinions, recently suggested the entire driver’s license system needs a serious overhaul. She proposes a three-tier classification to both promote good drivers and keep the lousy ones off the roads.

The red license would allow holders to operate a motor vehicle on non-rain/snow days outside of rush hour. The amber license would permit driving any time during the day in any weather, while a green license holder could drive any time, day or night, in any weather. Oh, and no cell-phone use of any type—texting, talking, email, surfing—while driving.

My input to this would be that all drivers begin with a red license and, as the skill levels increase, move on to more driving rights. This is the way pilot licenses are awarded, and there are proportionally a lot fewer airplane accidents than there are car mishaps. That should tell you something.

So I think S’s notion (and mine too; I don’t believe in false modesty) is an inspired stroke of genius. Yes, it might be more complicated to monitor, but think of the lives saved, the accidents avoided, the money not spent on repairs, court appearances, legal fees and fines!   Consider, as well, how much of your time is wasted daily by inconsiderate drivers’ actions…  The rubberneckers, swervers, brake-pumpers, up-and-down speeders, line-cutters and left-lane slowpokes that shamelessly hamper your existence? Give’ em all red licenses and let them use public transport. The rest of us sane, careful and polite (most of the time) drivers deserve no less. Tell your congressperson.

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