From: John De Armond
Subject: License reform (was Re: Night Has Descended On Freedom In U K, We're
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 18:45:51 -0500
On Sun, 25 Dec 2005 14:28:42 GMT, "Frank Howell"
Any theory is by definition refuted by even one existence proof to the
contrary. I have two.
>Ok, I am sure that driver licensing doesn't make a negative difference. I am
>sure that they do weed out those that are incompetent, but whether that
>stops them from driving, I don't know.
1) When I finally pulled the tags from my 99 year old uncle's car (and
told him the state required it), he was so senile that he thought he
was back in England during the war, often times driving on the left
side of the road. He'd get lost a block from his house. The cops
stopped him while left lane driving several times and either escorted
him home or called one of the family. I don't think anyone would
dispute that he was incompetent. Yet the state regarding him as a
fully competent driver and dutifully renewed his license every 5 years
after he took the mandated eye test. I didn't have the heart to have
his license pulled so he was fully licensed as a "competent" driver on
the day he died.
TN does not test for competence. When I got my first license at 15,
the examiner had me drive around the block and parallel park. All of
15 minutes and never exceeding 10 mph. When I got my motorcycle
license a year later, being somewhat of a showoff, I arrived at the DL
exam place riding a slow speed wheelie on my trials bike. I came to a
halt before dropping the front wheel. The examiner, seeing that,
commented that I obviously could ride a motorcycle and waived the
driving test. That was my last exam ever. Until TN went to the photo
ID license, I renewed by mail every 5 years. Even when I lived in PA.
All they wanted was that renewal fee. Now I renew by mail every other
period and get a new photo on the others.
2) A few years ago TN decided that it didn't like not getting all that
money from the illegal aliens in the state who never got licensed.
Soooo, the legislature, in its infinite wisdom, implemented a "no
questions asked" license. Show 'em any form of ID - a pay stub would
do - and you got your license. No proof of residency or legality
This instantly turned each licensing station into a Mexican slum, as
illegals from all over the South flocked to TN to make themselves
legit. One of the DL stations is a block away and it wasn't unusual
to see the line almost up to my place. I, of course, took advantage
of that, sending an employee down there with a push-cart full of 'Que
to cater to the people who'd been in line for hours. I made a
killing. If only I'd had a porta-pisser on wheels.....
This was all about money and nothing about ID or the competence to
drive. This law was modified only when the Homeland Security
apartchik jumped on the state for security reasons. Now they have to
have a second form of ID - a power bill works - but they STILL don't
have to prove that they can drive. Or even that they can read English
>I don't know if any state or federal agency who is in charge of these
>statistics, keeping records of fatal and non-fatal accidents as to whether
>the driver was licensed or not. If they do, that info would go a long way in
>clarifying this debate.
There really isn't any debate. There are those of us who knows how
the system works and for what purpose and there are those of you who
are remaining willfully ignorant to continue the argument.
Putting on my selfish hat for a moment, I'd LOVE to see a mandatory
competency test on EACH license renewal. A competency test that
measures alertness, reflexes, evasive driving ability, emergency
maneuver ability and a knowledge of road courtesy. A test conducted
on a closed course and at speed. As an experienced and trained race
car driver, I know that I'd pass whatever test they came up with with
flying colors. Meanwhile, the test would practically vacate the
roads, giving me clear sailing.
Taking my selfish had back off, I'd like to see the license process
revised so that one has to prove basic skills say, every 5 years.
Beyond that, reform enforcement to take the profit away and to nab the
truly incompetent. Put the fine money in a fund that is distributed
equally to every citizen of the state on Jan 1st, allowing NO charges
against the fund for overhead or admin. Just like Alaska does oil
revenue. Perhaps set the fines as a percentage of the gross income
each person reported to the IRS last year so that all would feel the
pain equally, with suitable minimums for bums and welfare suckers.
This would still slightly punish the violator but would not in any way
profit the government. Prohibit the use of violations by insurance
Eliminate set speed limits, replacing them with "too fast for
conditions", conviction for which would require video evidence. Give
the cop a camcorder instead of a radar gun and get his fat *ss off the
side of the road and out into traffic. Requiring video evidence would
go a long way toward eliminating road-side corruption such as I
experienced in Knoxville. The cop could no longer "get you" just
because he didn't like your looks or your car. He'd have to capture
it on video to prove his case. This would actually make it easier to
nail the truly dangerous drivers, those who ping-pong in and out of
traffic, do the Atlanta "4 lane fadeaway" (exiting from the left
lane), blocking left lane traffic and the like.
I'd even not have any problem with a vehicle dynamics recorder that
records (inertially and NOT GPS) the vehicle's movements over the last
few minutes. Place it in the tag and have a provision where the cop
can lock in the recording via radio and then read it out with his
handheld computer/camera. Let the cop issue the ticket via data
written to the smart card driver's license that has the violation
motion history and video stored in it. The video and motion history
is public key encrypted in the cop's handheld so that it can be
accessed only by the smart card license. This prevents the data being
used for anything other than prosecuting the offense. Lose the smart
card, pay the maximum fine and points plus pay for reissue of the
license. In court, the video overlaid with the vehicle dynamics would
provide practically iron-clad proof of the violation while making it
almost impossible for the cop to forge a violation.
A short recording of the last 5 minutes' maneuvers would be fine for
the purpose of prosecuting reckless driving while having minimal to no
utility for spying. I specify inertial instead of GPS precisely so
that the vehicle location cannot be recorded. Plus accelerometers are
dirt-cheap and small enough to be embedded in a license plate. Of
course, make this data off-limits for any other purpose including
Require EVERYONE to go to court. No paying by mail. Remember, we're
not fee-grabbing now so only those who really do something wrong get
cited. Court would involve little more than plugging the smart card
into a display unit and letting the judge examine it, with the
defendant providing any explanation he desires. Since the judge gains
no power nor profit (now TN applies a small portion of each fine to
the judge's retirement fund), he's not inclined to rubber stamp
Companies such as Symbol and Telzon could assemble such a system in
months, as pretty much everything needed other than some glue software
is already on the market.
I'd, of course, require that ALL the software involved in this system
be open sourced so that it can be audited to make sure there are no
back doors that the government could exploit for spying or for
Provide a citizen's oversight committee for each state whose charter
is to audit the actions of the enforcement system with the goal being
to protect the citizenry from both government and reckless drivers.
Neither too much nor too little enforcement. Do it on the state level
to provide satisfactory granularity while making it harder for "home
cookin'" to happen.
Add violations for "driving while stupid" and ticket those who do
stupid things like backing up on main highways, turning right from the
left lane, stopping in traffic for no reasons and all the other
stupid, dangerous things we see people do.
Make severe violations such as life threatening "driving while
stupid", DUI and so on "lifetime" violations that accumulate points
that don't expire. Exceed the limit and you never drive again, as
you've proven yourself incompetent to drive. Perhaps include a very
expensive and very time consuming (to prevent the wealthy from buying
themselves out) rehabilitation process that involves months of
training and evaluation. Chronic drunks would be disqualified from
rehabilitating their licenses until mandatory booze rehab and until
they prove by whatever means to have been clean for 5 years.
I'd probably break the lifetime limit up into two periods, youth and
adult, probably separated at about the age of 25. Perhaps make the
youth "lifetime" limit half that of adults, since we know that kids
cause the most accidents. Exceed the youth limit and lose your
license until you're 25 and then only get it back after a rehab
After the age of say, 60, require annual requalification on a
simulator that tests skill, judgment, reflexes, response times and
sentiency. This is good enough for airplane pilots so it is certainly
good enough for drivers. The hardware and software are already
available to implement this sort of testing. Do it similar to how Ga
does emissions testing, with hundreds of privately operated testing
centers located wherever the businessman wants to open one.
Put these testing centers in malls and other places people frequent.
Do the test and issue the new license all in one easy step.
These are the reforms that would take the profit out of traffic
enforcement, go a long way toward eliminating corruption and weed out
the incompetent, the terminally careless and the chronic substance
abusers. If you're truly interested in reforming the process in the
interest of safety and competence then you have to agree with this
design, if not all the details.
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Night Has Descended On Freedom In U K, We're Next
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 18:53:04 -0500
On Sun, 25 Dec 2005 15:01:37 -0500, bill horne <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>AAA sez, from study of 1993-1997 FARS data:
>One fatal crash in five (20%) involves a driver who is unlicensed or
>whose license is suspended, canceled, or revoked.
>States differ dramatically in their incidence of crashes involving
>unlicensed and invalidly licensed drivers, from 6.1% in Maine to
>23.4% in New Mexico.
>Unlicensed drivers are almost five times more likely to be in a fatal
>crash than are validly licensed drivers.
>Two-thirds of drivers continue to drive while under suspension.
The problem with these types of figures is that they munge together
those who've lost their licenses through violations in with those who
never bother to get licensed and those too incompetent to complete the
process (are there any of these?)
All these numbers tell you is that there is a small minority of
chronic violators who cause many of the accidents and most of the
fatalities. IT also tells you that the system is almost completely
failing to get these types off the road.
Some of these people obviously need to be in jail. Maybe if we could
stop the Drug War Against the Constitution, there'd be room.... Many
others need close supervision. Who is a larger danger to society - a
kid busted for pot possession or a chronic drunk working on his 5th
DUI? Yet the kid gets the probation while the drunk pays a fine or
does a couple of days in the joint and then is free to kill and kill