Symposium 2016: Should drivers be required to pass annual driving tests to improve road safety?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent- If you think the wait times at the DMV are long now, wait until an idea like this one takes hold.  I think it’s ridiculous to propose yearly driving tests, although I wouldn’t argue with making them mandatory every 7 years or so, or more frequently if a driver has been found guilty of offenses like DUI and texting while driving, which indicate a lack of appreciation for the seriousness of motoring.  The average person’s faculties don’t deteriorate significantly enough from year to year to make an annual driving test anything other than a tremendous waste of time and resources.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent- Some, but not all drivers should be required to pass annual driving tests to improve road safety, but undergoing a yearly driving test should be based on circumstances surrounding their driving records, age related impairments, health, and other risks that factor into the equation.

Usually drivers, 65 and older, are given five year renewals on driver’s licenses and must pass an eye exam and report any changes in vision.  Road tests for this age group and older should not be required  unless the driver is severely handicapped, has  slowed reflex responses, has critical eye and hearing issues and  other health problems such as advanced heart disease, diabetes, alcoholism and  age-related ailments that could cause driver impairment, blackouts or unconsciousness.  If older individuals even in their fifties have been involved in accidents, a series of accidents or other violations, both a written and driving test should be taken.   Not all drivers fall into this category and remain sharp and attentive for years to come, but others don’t and should be required to take road tests.

Younger drivers tend to be reckless, careless and easily distracted.  Teen drinking and driving, eating, smoking and vaping are other issues as is cell phone use combined with talking and texting, which have caused teenagers and others to be involved in fender benders and major accidents.  These kinds of incidents can cause serious issues with license renewal and license suspension.   Repeat offenders should be monitored and if their license is under any threat of suspension or revocation, driving and written tests should be administered.  Any use of smart phones and other electronic devices while driving creates a dangerous environment and when it leads to deadly accidents, a road test is in order.

Distracted driver fatalities and road rage incidents  are on the increase as  irresponsible people climb into the driver’s seat and begin texting,  using other gadgets or taking their driving frustrations, impatience and temperament to a whole new level by cutting off drivers, ramming other vehicles or actually physically attacking another driver outside of a vehicle. With more and more distractions and possibilities for direct physical contact and bodily harm inflicted on other drivers, these distracted drivers must be held accountable.  Both written and driving tests should be given and if the incidents are deadly and cause accidents, distracted drivers should have their licenses suspended or revoked.

Even drivers in their thirties and forties are guilty of distracted driving as there are many ways to lose focus of the important task of vehicle control. Fussing children, a dropped cigarette or a spousal disagreement can add to distracted and reckless driving to name just a few.  If these drivers continue to drive distracted and are involved in altercations, they too should be required to take a yearly driving test or sooner if accidents or other moving violations have occurred.

Not every driver should be required to take a yearly driving test but if there are critical and serious problems with a driver’s performance, which are related to issues of age, youth and distraction, then a road test should be required for the sake of other drivers and safety in general.

Myrtle Beach, SC Correspondent- While this sounds awesome on the surface it’s just not feasible. The DMV is understaffed and lines are ridiculous now, so unless we could find an alternative to going to the DMV to take the test it won’t work. Maybe the monitors that some insurance companies could provide a viable alternative to going in and taking a test somehow.

If we can get by that problem I think having yearly tests would be amazing! At the very least we should mandate yearly tests for those under 25 and over 65. That needs to be done yesterday!

Owatonna, MN Correspondent- Requiring annual driving tests sounds like a good idea because everyone wants to drive on safer roads. But costs in time, money, and inconvenience make this a less-than-great idea.

First, what sort of test should there be? Written tests are easier, faster, and cheaper, but will they have any real positive impact on road safety? To require an annual road test of nearly 200 million drivers in the US would cost tens of billions of dollars over and above the usual expenses of the nation’s Departments of Motor Vehicles.

Second, would a road test be effective in improving road safety? The standard licensing test for first-time applicants doesn’t address many real-life safety issues. All that is covered is the proper operation of the vehicle and making sure the driver observes basic traffic laws. Everyone can drive within speed limits, use turn signals, refrain from tailgating, and buckle up for a short test, then ignore those procedures once they’ve passed and return to their unsafe driving habits. There exists no tangible incentive to continue driving the same way in real life.

The ability to avoid accidents isn’t tested. Shortened reaction times aren’t demonstrated for instances of tailgating or driving on wet, snowy, or icy roads. The ability to anticipated possible traffic problems such as sudden traffic jams isn’t tested. In general, those things that make driving a risky proposition would be difficult to successfully test.

A better alternative is to expand programs for senior citizens that award discounted insurance premiums to drivers who voluntarily take refresher courses. Everyone appreciates lower insurance rates, and many would see the benefit in trading four or eight hours of their time in exchange for significant annual savings on their auto insurance premiums. Expanding programs like this to all drivers could easily be done and cost a lot less than a government-sponsored retesting program.

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