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  1. #1
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    Right to drive not auto-matic

    Right to drive not auto-matic

    Legislators need to update the way Oregonians get -- and keep -- their driver's licenses

    Monday, March 24, 2008
    The Oregonian

    More than 3 million Oregonians are licensed to use a deadly weapon.

    Most of them use it every day: their automobile.

    The casualty count -- about 450 highway deaths each year -- is considerable. But beyond grief and suffering, traffic accidents, including the most minor, carry a secondary -- and enormous -- social cost.

    They cause congestion -- worsening pollution and wasting precious fossil fuels. That then prompts ever greater investment in ever more infrastructure in an effort to keep things moving. Meanwhile, the simple truth remains that if everyone in Oregon drove properly, there would not be a capacity problem on any of our highways.

    It's time now for Oregon to take far more seriously the business of licensing people to drive. The current system is broken.

    Far too many school districts have slashed driver education from their budgets. Far too many youngsters now learn to drive from someone who likely learned to drive 30 years ago from someone who likely learned to drive in 1950.

    As for taking the test, sure there's a written exam. Cramming for it takes all of 12 minutes. Then there's that brief spell behind the wheel during which you go nowhere near a freeway or need to parallel park.

    And once you snag a license, it's pretty much yours for life.

    Through the years, the state has managed to squeeze precious few safeguards into the system. Doctors are required to report, confidentially, any patient in whom they see something untreatable that is severe enough to make driving unsafe.

    In recent years, police officers also have been able to call, confidentially, for license re-evaluation. The Oregon Transportation Commission has wisely restored the rule making police requests public. Good. Cops need no shield of anonymity.

    The commission must, however, reject calls for an end to the system, in sensible use since 1987, by which friends and family can report confidentially on loved ones who become unsafe drivers because of age, medical condition or physical ailment. Last year, the state received more than 2,200 such requests for re-evaluation. More than half the targeted drivers were older than 75. Each simply had to be re-tested, risk license suspension or retire from the road.

    The next step is for legislators to thoroughly revamp the ways in which Oregon drivers get -- and keep -- their licenses. It makes absolutely no sense that we continue to spend billions on expanding Oregon's transportation infrastructure -- and next to nothing on teaching Oregonians how to use it.

    2008 The Oregonian

  2. #2
    Videre non videri
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    I'd like to see a system with medical renewals (a bit like in aviation, by certified medical doctors only) every five years above age 35, then every two years above age 65.

    In addition to that, I suggest a new written and practical exam, like the first, after any traffic violation above a certain level of severity, even if your licence isn't revoked (the difference is that a revoked licence would have a minimum suspension period of several months, whereas the re-test scenario would let you drive on until the test was taken and passed, and after that you're free to drive again).

  3. #3
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    I think age-independent recertification following every significant traffic violation or at-fault collision would be equitable and constructive.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  4. #4
    genec genec's Avatar
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    How about a real test... one that may take more than 12 minutes to cram for... and includes questions about other users of the road... such as peds and cyclists.

    How about regular renewals... some states have this, you have to go in and retest; other states pretty much grant a license for life and you simply fill in a form and send in money.

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    I think this editorial is on the right track, but starts off on the wrong foot when it calls driving a "right." It's not a right, it's a privilege, and all licensing and traffic regulations should be based on that understanding.

    That said, it's definitely past time to begin to address issues about driver training, and driver licensing, and what the states need to do in regards to drivers to make the roads safer.

    This, and not removing red light cameras in order to make the roads less safe and therefore more profitable, is what government should be doing.

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    In many countries in europe, like Germany, its very hard to pass the drivers test, very expensive to get a license, as in thousands of dollars, and very expensive to keep a car because of very strict yearly auto inspections. Just getting stricter on licensing would go a long way in keeping marginal drivers off the roads.

    Driving a car is a privilege, not a right, but unfortunately, most people if asked would say its a god given constitutional right.
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    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Around here, the first stage of getting a license means 20hrs of theory and at least 30 practice lessons of 25 minutes each. Cost: about EUR1300. Pass the subsequent test (theory + driving) and you get a license that is valid for two years.

    Within the two years you need to study and pass the tests for a short stage two. Special courses on driving in the dark and in winter conditions must be included somewhere along the line. Both stages and all the tests combined, the license will cost about EUR1600-1700 and take a better part of a calendar year at minimum.

    That's the procedure in driving schools. You can also be tutored by someone in your household, provided they meet certain requirements and pass a tutor's test. Requirements are the same, but the costs will go down to about EUR600-700.

    --J
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    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  8. #8
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juha View Post
    Around here, the first stage of getting a license means 20hrs of theory and at least 30 practice lessons of 25 minutes each. Cost: about EUR1300. Pass the subsequent test (theory + driving) and you get a license that is valid for two years.

    Within the two years you need to study and pass the tests for a short stage two. Special courses on driving in the dark and in winter conditions must be included somewhere along the line. Both stages and all the tests combined, the license will cost about EUR1600-1700 and take a better part of a calendar year at minimum.

    That's the procedure in driving schools. You can also be tutored by someone in your household, provided they meet certain requirements and pass a tutor's test. Requirements are the same, but the costs will go down to about EUR600-700.

    --J
    Meanwhile what are the conditions for cycling? I was in Oulu some time back and was very impressed by the bicycle network there... do similar networks exist all over Finland?

  9. #9
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order View Post
    I think this editorial is on the right track, but starts off on the wrong foot when it calls driving a "right." It's not a right, it's a privilege, and all licensing and traffic regulations should be based on that understanding.
    I wonder if the author of the article wrote the title or if that was just made up my some editor looking for a catchy one.
    Al

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    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Meanwhile what are the conditions for cycling? I was in Oulu some time back and was very impressed by the bicycle network there... do similar networks exist all over Finland?
    No conditions. We have a blanket statement in our traffic laws about not causing danger to anyone, I guess that could be applied if you ride in traffic and completely ignore all the relevant regulations.

    Oulu has put significant resources into developing their bicycling infrastructure. The general idea is the same in all urban areas here (bike networks are an integral part of city planning nowadays), but Oulu seems to have taken the idea further, from what I've seen done there. They're not only including bike paths to new street designs but also drawing bikeways across areas where no streets exist.

    --J
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    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  11. #11
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juha View Post
    No conditions. We have a blanket statement in our traffic laws about not causing danger to anyone, I guess that could be applied if you ride in traffic and completely ignore all the relevant regulations.

    Oulu has put significant resources into developing their bicycling infrastructure. The general idea is the same in all urban areas here (bike networks are an integral part of city planning nowadays), but Oulu seems to have taken the idea further, from what I've seen done there. They're not only including bike paths to new street designs but also drawing bikeways across areas where no streets exist.

    --J
    It was quite fascinating to ride on those bikeways... like nothing I have ever seen or done before...

    Folks here in the US that envision bikeways, do not have any idea what Oulu was like... our usual bike paths are narrow, dirty, often broken up poor secondary excuses of what a bike path should be.

    I was really in awe of the wide wonderful paths in Oulu, especially all the bridges that went back and forth that were NOT for auto traffic.

    I do recall one comment from a local I met on a path there when I asked whether the paths were plowed in the winter...
    "Oh yes, all the time... but not right here."
    "Oh... why not here..."
    "No one goes to the beach in winter... "
    "Oh."

    We were yards from the ocean at that point.

    I quite enjoyed my visit there and the brief time I was able to enjoy the bike paths.

  12. #12
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    I'd like to see a yearly test. A very involved difficult to pass test. It would be an expensive test, so let the drivers pay for it. It wouldn't hurt if driving was quite a bit more expensive anyway.
    Not too much to say here

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    I think stricter licensing criteria is one of those low-hanging fruit situations that government will want to turn to at some point. Think of the benefits of removing incompetent drivers from the roads: Increased road safety (the obvious benefit), decreased congestion (without requiring the construction of new infrastructure), improved air quality, easier compliance with global warming mandates, reduced oil consumption, and of course, if bicycling became the norm for most trips, improved public health and lower health care costs.

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    Senior Member Trucker_JDub's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CdCf View Post
    I'd like to see a system with medical renewals (a bit like in aviation, by certified medical doctors only) every five years above age 35, then every two years above age 65............
    There is already something like this for commercial drivers. Class A and B drivers have to get a medical exam every 2 years unless you have something wrong then its only good for 1 year and you have to correct the problem. If its not corrected your license is suspended and you are unable to drive anything.


    If its already being done it wouldn't be hard for it to be for every one. Also I would love for every one to be restricted to a .04 blood alcohol level like a commercial driver.

    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    It wouldn't hurt if driving was quite a bit more expensive anyway.
    When was the last time to bought as tank of gas? At $3.75 a gallon my 18 gallon tank is $67.50 to full up, is that not expencive enough for you? Glad I don't have my old diesel truck any more with diesel being $4.35 and all.

  15. #15
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Stricter license sounds like a great idea, and works well in other countries. The problem with the U.S., as I see it, doesn't get addressed to often in forums like this. I live in a town that is an hour, by car, from departement stores, from movie theaters, from convenience stores, from being able to get the things that most others take for granted. The U.S. has no interest or desire to create a public transportation infrastructure. If I couldn't drive, for medical reasons, or cost issues, I would be screwed. These ideas may look great to urban and possibly suburban people, but for people like me, this cannot happen until we have a better public transportation system. Driving is not a right, but being mobile is.

  16. #16
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    Reliance on public transit and/or the bicycle won't work for everybody, but it will work for most people, because most people live in or near urban areas.

    And really, we're talking about stricter licensing to remove the incompetent drivers from the road. If somebody is not capable of driving, and they live too far from public transit, the rational solution is for that person to move-- not to let them continue to drive.

  17. #17
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Ah, force them to live in a place they don't want to live, and may not have the same quality of life. That, I think, is what some may call un-american.

    I understand the concern with incompetent drivers, and I do not want them on the road anymore than you do, but to force someone to relocate because of an unwillingness to provide a means of transportation is not the way to do it. Even if it's only a small number of people who would be affected, that's a small number of people to many.

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    Quote Originally Posted by UnsafeAlpine View Post
    Ah, force them to live in a place they don't want to live, and may not have the same quality of life. That, I think, is what some may call un-american.

    I understand the concern with incompetent drivers, and I do not want them on the road anymore than you do, but to force someone to relocate because of an unwillingness to provide a means of transportation is not the way to do it. Even if it's only a small number of people who would be affected, that's a small number of people to many.
    You're forgetting that we're talking about people who have no right to be on the road in the first place. If they can't drive safely, they don't belong on the road, period. If the problem is DUI, should we let them continue to drive, because taking their license would mean that they'd have to move to another home? Of course not. We take their license anyway, and they have to figure out how to get around. If the problem is incompetence due to some other reason, why should we then allow them to remain behind the wheel, when we'd take the license from their incompetent city-brethren?

    Bottom line, driving is a privilege, not a right, and if the driver can't meet the responsibility requisite to acquiring and maintaining that privilege, it's not society's problem if the driver chooses to live in a place where he/she can't get around except by automobile.

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