Opinion: Rethinking Driver Certification and Licensing

The first snowfall of the year always tends to wreck havoc and mayhem on the roads in and around the GTA, and Brampton always has it’s fair share of fender-benders, that help solidify it’s position as having the highest car insurance rates in the Province.

Are Brampton drivers more reckless than drivers in other parts of the GTA, Province or Canada as a whole?

Do they ignore the rules of the road more?

Are they more entitled?

Are they being unfairly singled out by the Insurance Industry because of Postal Code discrimination?

Or is there a correlation between the ease of which someone can obtain a car license in this Province and the high rate of accidents?

Finland and Germany have some of the toughest regulations in obtaining your license.  In Finland, which has weather similar to many cities in Canada, licenses are issued to new drivers that is valid for an interim period of two years. If a new driver in Finland receives any driving related fine, their interim period could be extended. To receive a Class B license in Finland, there are extensive classes and 19 theory lessons that must be taken, As well, drivers learn how to drive in slippery and icy conditions.

In Germany, drivers need to take professional lessons to get a driving permit and they must take four driving tests and a full week of theoretical classes. About one-third of aspiring drivers fail the written exam on the first try.

There are still traffic accidents in Finland and Germany, with most involving alcohol, however, countries that take driver certification and licensing more seriously and enact tougher regulations also have lower vehicular accident and death rates than Canada. http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-countries-with-the-fewest-car-accidents-in-the-world.html

The operation of any motor vehicle, whether a car, motorcycle or scooter is not a right, but a privilege that should come with a huge responsibility and understanding that one mistake or distraction can cause destruction, injury and death.

Should there be more frequent testing for older drivers? Should regulating night driving for older and younger drivers be effective? Should auto mechanics have a duty to inform the Ministry of Transportation about cars that don’t meet safety standards?

These are questions that the Ontario Government isn’t addressing. Instead, the insurance industry is supported in using rates and coverage limits to solve the problem of bad drivers and fraud.

Many countries have adopted the Swedish model of Vision Zero –  https://centerforactivedesign.org/visionzero or EuroRap (European Road Assessment Program – http://www.eurorap.org/ – to save lives through safer roads and design, but combating road deaths must also start with increasing recognition of non-motorists’ rights on the road along with tougher driver education initiatives, and stringently enforced vehicle safety regulations. The end result would be less fatalities and accidents and more affordable auto insurance.

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