Public Hearing on Preventing Deaths and Injuries Caused by Reckless and Negligent Drivers

1 2 3 4 5

2. Testing. While a pilots test is generally more demanding than a driving test, the main philosophical difference between the tests is the pilots test requires competency of the operator to get out of emergency situations where emergency situations like maximum braking, obstacle avoidance, and skid recovery are not covered in the drivers test.

3. Accountability. Accountability is built into the regulatory system. If a pilot crashes or is involved in an ďincidentĒ it goes on the permanent record of that pilotís instructor. If there is a mechanical problem with a plane it goes on the permanent record of the mechanic who certified the airworthiness of the aircraft.

Some other important differences between pilotís licenses and drivers licenses are:

1. License class. A pilot can only fly the type of plane he is tested in. That is a pilot who has a certification to fly a single engine propeller airplane. Can not just jump into a twin engine propeller craft or a single engine turbine craft.

2. Re-testing. If a person doesnít fly for 12 months they have to take a refresher course for their license to be valid. It is possible to carry a valid driverís license although years have past since you were last behind the wheel.

Additionally commercial driving companies should follow the example of the airline industry in the use of simulator technology, to train and test driversí ability.

We need to get serious about driver education. Part of the reason that so many people donít have the necessary skills is that they were never trained to drive properly in the first place.

Driving a vehicle is a serious thing. People spend a lot time in their cars. We need to take the training of operators a lot more seriously than we do. Before giving out licenses we need to teach people traffic law, we need to educate them about safety, we need to teach them about their cars propulsion and braking systems and then we need to teach people how to really drive. And by that I mean. Where the traction limits of a car are, how to brake effectively. How to perform evasive maneuvers. How to regain control of a vehicle when it is out of control. How to pass other vehicles safely. How to approach an intersection. How to turn in a crosswalk. How to drive on the highway. How to pass a cyclists safely. Since people spend so much time driving driver education and safety should be a much more comprehensive course taught by professionals and the educational component of driving needs to be much better integrated within the general educational system. We should start teaching kids about safety and the rules of the road when they are young and start riding bikes and constantly reinforce a safety message through various educational programs so by the time they receive their drivers license these concepts are so ingrained that they are reflexive.

People need to be licensed for the vehicles that they operate. The licenses that we give out need to match the types of vehicles that we allow people to drive. Under our current system you can pass your drivers test driving small sub compact car with an automatic transmissions that weighs 1500 Lb. and then go out and buy a manual transmission Ford Expedition that weighs 9,000 lb. With that same license anyone can go to U haul and rent a 26í truck, or even a 15 person passenger van and then legally drive a van load of kids around. Something is very wrong here. Can you imagine how many planes would fall out of the sky if we allowed people who were licensed to fly a single engine Cessna to start flying multi- engine jets. Yet this is exactly what is happening on the ground and results are the same. The amount of injuries every week in pedestrian collisions (in New York City) is the same as a large jetliner crashing every week in our city. Part of the reason is the licensing system that is in place isnít working. One of things we need to do is to more closely match the licenses we give out to the vehicles that are allowed to drive.

People involved in accidents should have their driving skills re-tested before they are allowed back on the road. While we need to much work to insure that the people who drive vehicles are qualified to drive them, in order to prevent injuries from accidents in the first place, we also have a responsibility to all road users to effectively weed out incompetent drivers (thereís a lot out there) and to re-train marginal drivers. One of the obvious places to screen for these drivers is at crash sites. Which is why anyone who has caused a serious accident should have their driving skills re-tested before they are allowed to drive again. And if human life or injury has been caused there should be a mandatory 1-year license suspension.

We need to aggressively get dangerous drivers off our roads. We need to deal harshly with unlicensed, unregistered and uninsured drivers and aggressive drivers. Hit and run drivers, (who we can assume are either unlicensed, uninsured, or unregistered), account for almost half of all pedestrian fatalities in 1994.

We should have the same tolerance for people who cause hit and run driving accidents as we do for murderers walking on our streets. Zero. In many ways unlicensed drivers are the same.

Notification of license suspension. Under our current system when your license is suspended. It is sent by regular mail. A simple solution to insure that the notices get delivered properly and to weed out license fraud is to notify people of their license suspensions by registered mail.

back | next