Monday, January 19, 2015

Fit to drive?

I have a sneaking sympathy for those who have been insisting that issuing speeding tickets for very small infringements of the 50kmh limit on quiet city streets was not likely to have much impact on the road toll. My impression, after a considerable amount of time on the open road recently, is that drivers are moving more responsibly these holidays. But the Minister of Police is right to review the muddle-headed way in which the holiday policy was implemented. There are a lot of other factors in road safety than merely speed and we may have reached the point where even harsher application of a sensible law may make it silly.

"Now which side of the road?"
I have less sympathy for those who would make every overseas visitor sit a driving test before venturing onto our roads. Undoubtedly there is a problem. Last week we had a chat to one overseas driver who had been holding up a dozen vehicles at 65 kph. She claimed that no one could pass her, even on an open, clear road, because there wasn’t a passing lane. Maybe a short introduction to the fundamentals of driving on other than US Interstates could have helped her before she drove off in a rental vehicle.

But if we are to introduce some kind of test for rental car drivers in this country, it would be reasonable that other countries require the same of us when we visit them. Our trip to the USA in 1983 would have been very different if Bev and I had been required to pass some kind of test the sixteen times we hired rental cars on our Trip of a Lifetime.

Also, there are other groups who are less well known to be at risk to themselves and others. Perhaps we should have a test for Seniors like me, who got their driving licences sixty years ago and haven’t had to answer a question on the Road Code ever since. Or for Under-20s who may have passed the theory test but whose skill is not always as great as their confidence. Or for any other groups of drivers who are likely to contribute more than their share to the road toll. 

Perhaps what we need is a brief on-line refresher and a short-answer test that any driver should be able to pass on demand by an authorised person. Failure could certainly raise questions about hiring a rental car. Building such a test into the present mutual recognition of drivers’ licences among many nations might ease a problem for other countries as well as our own.

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