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Driver's Ed

We all have people in our lives who we know shouldn’t be driving. Whether they be incapable, unsafe, or just bad at it, you’re all thinking of someone right now. I know I fall into the “incapable” category due to being legally blind. That is a very valid reason in my opinion.

Now, have I driven a car before? Hell yes I have. My mother would be disturbed to know how many times I’ve driven her cars through the years. My sister in law should know that I have driven hers as well. Don’t blame me, take it up with your husband.

Other than you, most of the people reading this take driving as something that is just part of life. You drive to the store, to work, to school, to some kind of entertainment or just take yourself for a ride. As basic as the act of driving seems, it is actually one of the most dangerous things you can do.

Like it or not, even if you are behind the wheel of the most basic, small car like say, a Honda Fit, it is still more dangerous than anything else you can get your hands on. A Fit is a very small car, and even that weighs from 2,522 to 2,648 pounds. Name me something in your average day that you have total control of going 60 MPH that weighs over a ton? I can wait.

Well, while you rack your brain trying to answer that question, I’ll answer for you, you can’t think of anything. Now that we’ve established that, let’s look at some statistics.

Do me a favor, what is something you think is incredibly dangerous? Perhaps something you have the right to have in the Constitution, but still some states make it incredibly difficult to get. That’s right, we’re talking about sleeveless shirts. Ok, so that was bad, I’m obviously talking about guns. How many people are hurt with guns every year? According to Team ENOUGH, which seems like a very anti-gun outfit so I’m guessing these numbers are a tad inflated to fit their narrative, 115,551 people are either hurt or killed by guns every year. That includes, legal guns, illegal guns, murders, accidents, suicides and even law enforcement shootings. Seems like a lot huh? Probably good to have guns closely monitored and regulated if you asked me.

Now let’s take a look at how many people are either hurt or killed in car related accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, an estimated 2.74 million people were injured in automobile related accidents in 2019. I hear you as I’m writing this, “But, Blind Owl, that’s an estimate.” A good point. So guess what, let’s give or take a million or so. I think you get my point.

I don’t claim to be some kind of statistician, but 2.74 million is a little bigger than 115.551.

Meanwhile, the access to automobiles in this country is much more than the access to firearms. Now of course, that results in more injuries because there is more access. That’s exactly my point. There is no reason I can’t just walk into a car dealership and buy a car. I don’t have a license but I can purchase a vehicle no problem.

That being said, I have a question for all of you out there. And I’m going to ask my wife as my guinea pig. How many times have you been tested for safe driving? Well, according to her, she only needed to pass the driver’s test once to get her license. I then asked her if she’s ever taken the test again. She has not. On the flip side, in conversations with my father about his gun, I asked him how many times he’s been tested to see if he can use the gun. He told me he had to be background checked, and has to qualify for his job once a year. I then asked my wife if she was ever background checked for her license. She was very confused.

Normally, folks take the driver’s test when they are roughly 16 years old. My wife is 29. That was 13 years ago. Since then, she has gotten glasses. Seeing is a very important part of driving wouldn’t you say? Well, guess what, they do test your vision every so often to keep your license. In Massachusetts, the average person has to renew their license every 10 years. That includes a vision test at the DMV.

Well, I went with someone once to renew their license. I asked if I could take the vision test just for laughs. The person administering the test, who was in no way an optometrist or ophthalmologist, said sure why not. This person had no idea I am legally blind. Guess what, I passed the test. Anyone that knows me is now horrified. And that’s just every 10 years. Imagine what could happen if people didn’t get tested between then.

Now, most people’s vision doesn’t change that much. Another valid point. So let’s take a look at actual driving skill. I decided to go a little older than my wife for this one. I phoned up my mother. I’m not going to say how old my mom is because I like to be alive. But I was born when my mom was 30 years old. I’m 29. I’ll leave it up to you to do some math. She told me that she got road tested when she was 16 and a half years old. I then asked when the last time she was tested was, her answer was 1979. For those keeping score at home, that was when she was 16 and a half. To me, that’s a bit alarming.

To put it in perspective, teachers get evaluated on their ability to teach roughly every 2 years. For me, that’s just to see if I can still teach kids to throw a ball. Yet, we aren’t testing people to see if they can operate a machine that injured 2.74 million people in a year. Seems a little backwards doesn’t it.

So let's say you get your license taken away. Maybe for too many speeding tickets, a DUI or for whatever other reason. Do they take away your ability to buy a car? Nope. Meanwhile, if you commit a felony, you can’t legally own a gun. Seems a little backwards doesn’t it. I mean, the only thing stopping me from walking downstairs, grabbing my wife’s keys and buzzing around town in the Honda Fit is the fact that I wouldn’t have a wife when I returned. If I drove well enough, nobody would know. I would never do that, I’m just proving a point here.

I’ve spent quite some time showing you the problems here. Now it is time for some solutions. As always, the solution is incredibly simple.

The idea of renewing your license is a good start. At first, it’s after 5 years of having it. That’s a great idea. That 5 year renewal should continue throughout your entire life. Every time you renew, you should have to be examined by an eye doctor to make sure your vision is solid. The DMV should employ these people on staff to make it easier for folks. Then, on every other renewal (every 10 years) you should have to retake a road test. This will prove you can still do what you should be able to in a car. If you fail, you have every opportunity to redo the test. You just have to pass it. If you think you are a fine driver, then this should be no problem. If anyone is against it, it is safe to assume that you think you couldn’t pass the test. This every 10 year road test goes down to every 5 years once you hit 65. No offense to my older readers, but you folks need to be tested more often. Only because that’s when things start to go a little wonky in the human body.

This idea will be pretty unpopular at first. I’ll be called an idiot, and not qualified to comment on it because I don’t drive. My response to that is easy. Numbers don’t lie. 2.74 million is a big number. If we can do something simple like this to reduce that, it’s a good thing. Hate me if you want, but you know I’m right.

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