Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Driving Ages

I’ve got a problem with the DMV. Actually, I have many, many problems with the DMV, but I really don’t have the time or energy to cover them all here. The specific problem I want to discuss today is the lack of safety programs with driver’s licenses. For starters, the expiration dates. My license expired on my 41st birthday this year, and my new one is only valid for five years. I had my previous license for at least 10 years. Here’s the problem with that - The renewal period is backward. I was a terrible driver when I first got my license. Only now am I getting any good at it.

Progression of Driving Safety Level as an Adult:

Age 16 – You are the worst driver on the planet. You are more of a safety hazard than a Jamaican bus driver on meth, but every fiber of your being is so intent on acquiring an official license to drive a car that you are able to concentrate for hours at a time with laser-like focus in order to pass the tests. Truth be told, it would be safer if we gave your license to an untrained 10-year-old, because at least they would be scared to be behind the wheel once set free.

(Side note - Do you school officials and PTAs out there want to solve all of your low test score issues? Simple. Tie every high school subject to the driver’s license. No ticket to ride unless you get a B or higher in every class. You’ll have to constantly raise the state standards just to keep up with the level of effort you’ll see pouring out of every pimple-faced knucklehead at City High.)

Ages 17-24 – You are a true menace to society, but you are convinced that you are the best driver that has ever lived, ever, anywhere. You feel that you are the only one on the road who knows anything at all about driving, and you are amazed that you are not automatically allowed to drive as fast as you want to because you can totally control this car like a boss. (The only reason you manage to not actually kill anyone is that you are still young and have reflexes like a cheetah.) You are in constant awe about how bad everyone else is at driving, and you are beside yourself as to why this old idiot in the fast lane won’t get out of your way, and, like, why is he doing like only 75 mph? You’d better drive less than five feet off his rear bumper, NASCAR-style, to make the point that he needs to move over, and you should definitely text someone right now about this problem. OMG!

Ages 25-39 – You have your first real job and can finally afford a nicer, newer car. This newer car has more torque and horsepower than your previous car, so the bigger paycheck also comes in handy when you need to pay for the extra speeding tickets and inevitable insurance rate increases. You still suck at driving safely, and you still think you are God’s gift to motor vehicle control and handling. Then, usually somewhere in this age range you have your first child. The day you put them in the car to drive them home for the first time, all your previous attitudes about driving safety are thrown out the window, and your driving life drastically changes. This is your first step to becoming a mediocre driver.

Ages 40-44 – You are just learning how to actually drive safely. You are aware of your surroundings, you actually watch for children at play, and you agree with speed limits for the first time in your whole life. In fact, you wish that many speed limits were lower, especially on that crazy-busy street near your neighborhood. You are starting to say things like, “Damn kids!” and “That kid driving that car looked like he was 12,” and “Slow down! What the hell?”

Ages 45-65 – These are your prime driving years. You are as safe as you will ever be behind the wheel. That is not to say that you yourself are automatically a good driver. This age range is just the only chance you have to be a good driver. You may still be an idiot. It happens. Often.

Ages 66-75 – Your neck doesn’t work as well as it used to, and neither do your eyes, so you are pulling out into traffic now more by feel than actual visual knowledge. You spend most of your time behind the wheel either yelling at the other drivers or muttering to yourself about traffic laws, speed limits, and immigration policies.

Ages 76-84 – You are not fully back to being a menace to society yet, but you’re getting close. You have dropped your average speed in any situation by at least 15-20 MPH, and you are yet again constantly amazed that no one on the road knows how to drive except you.

Age 85 and up – You are back to being a full menace to society, but in a much slower and strangely more annoying way. At some point, you will hopefully have a low-speed collision with your own house, and your children will use this incident as the reason for taking your keys away and selling your car, an action they know they should have taken at least five years earlier.

So, you see, the driver’s license should be good without renewal from age 40 until 65. Before and after that, from age 16 to 40 and from 65 on, it should be required to be renewed every year, or even every six months, with comprehensive testing, lots of hoops to jump through, long lines to wait in, and prohibitive fees. That would help to make the roads a lot safer.

In addition to license renewal changes, there should also be a drastic change in the type and size of vehicle that you are actually licensed to operate. No more one size fits all policy.

Age-Based Vehicle Class Licensing System:

Age 16 – Class F - Licensed only to ride a one-person, stand-up motorized Razor scooter

Ages 17-24 – Class D - You may graduate to a Vespa scooter with a gas engine, but only if you put down a $20,000 cash insurance deposit.

Ages 25-39 – Class C - If you managed to live to be 25 you can now drive a car with four wheels, but only a small two-seater under 150 horsepower. If you have your first child while in this age range, you may graduate up to a minivan with proof of birth certificate and car seat. If you have your first child when you are still in the 17 to 24-year-old age range, too bad. Buy a good stroller and a bus pass.

Ages 40-65 – Class A - Go get yourself a full-size SUV and have a ball.

Ages 66-75 – Class B - You’re back to a mid-sized sedan under 150 horsepower.

Ages 76-84 – Class D/G - You’re back to the Vespa scooter, but this time, we will waive the insurance deposit requirement, providing you still have a valid insurance policy. You will also have golf cart privileges, but only on designated retirement community streets and actual golf courses. Mini Coopers and those tiny Smart Cars are also acceptable substitutes for the Vespa in this age category.

Age 85 and up – Class LR - Your only choice is a Little Rascal motorized scooter with a speed-limiter. If you can get yourself to it, on it, and get it going, go nuts.

There, don’t you feel safer already?

See you soon,


Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen

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