Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How to Make Better Drivers

I've given up on the dream of self-driving vehicles. Humans are determined to kill themselves and kill others with their own bad driving habits for eternity, regardless of having the means to avoid it. So, focusing on error-prone humans for now, I have discovered some solutions.

First off, the reason there are so many bad drivers is that most of them simply don't care. They don't care about stop signs, red lights (unless there's a camera around), speed limits, using turn signals, tailgating, staying in their lane, yielding properly, and so on. And why is it they don't care? Because they don't perceive any value to having the privilege of driving. To most Americans, anyway, they feel its a God-given (or Constitutionally-assigned) right.

I haven't even brought up how they don't care enough to keep their trash and cigarette butts inside their vehicles.

Why don't they see value in this privilege? Because it all comes to easily:

- A Driver's license is as easy to obtain as a drink from a vending machine. They're cheap. The tests are simple. If you disagree, ask yourself "how hard can it be?" every day you're in traffic during rush hour. If that doesn't convince you, just park in a Walmart parking lot and watch the scenery for a few hours.

- The possession of a driver's license is difficult to separate from the driver. Suspend: seldom. Revoke: rarely. Most drivers are allowed a rather high number of infractions before any meaningful penalty is levied. Usually it results in a fine, a safety course and maybe a higher insurance premium (if they even have insurance). There are scores of incidents where drivers have committed five or six DUI infractions before anything serious is done.

Solutions:

1. Raise the price

2. Make the test more difficult

3. Make the penalties more sever

When you give someone something "free" they usually don't assign value to it as they would for things they had to earn with hard work. That's just a fact. It's human nature. Lose a license at $15 in a bar? Buy a new one. Lose a license at $500 in a bar? Not as likely.

The tests are stupid simple and allow the dumbest of the dumb to get on the road and operate dangerous heavy machinery at high speeds with minimal skills. Make them as hard to pass as a school exam. Gee. That's a shocker.

Speeding? Fine. Failing to stop at a stop sign? Fine. Speeding? Another fine. Running a red light? Yet another fine. DUI? First-time: fine. Second time? Fine and safety course. Kids not in belts or safety seat? Fine. Shitty condition of car (fender hanging off, duct tape holding hood down): another fine. Fuck that. First penalty of ANY kind: $500 or a week in jail (or trade for two weeks of public service manual labor). Second offense: Suspend license for two months. Third: jail time and revocation.

If people sweat their behavior more they'll be more careful. More careful means more patient drivers, more safe drivers, more courtesy. Courtesy and civility equate to a better commute and a better society.

Thank you.

Now, why won't this ever happen? That's simple: car companies won't allow it. Check into it yourself and you will see that automotive lobbyists work hard convincing politicians to keep things as pleasantly agreeable as possible towards making it easier for idiots to obtain and keep a license, buy or lease a car and so on. It feeds a huge industry that includes repair shops, customizing, insurance, oil and gas, and so on. They are not going to let anyone put a leash on that beast. Big money wins.

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