Redefining the Driver’s License

This simple idea applies to literally everyone with a driver’s license. The keyword here is “license.” And yes, it involves you.

A license is granted once the applicant, typically a spry and eager teenager, passes a written test and the state sponsored or licensed driving test. Permits are issued under certain circumstances, but require a fully licensed driver to be present at all times while the permitted driver is behind the wheel. There is an early age requirement for both the license and the permit, and both require a very basic understanding of the laws of the road and basic vehicle operation.

Likewise, a license can be revoked by the issuer for many reasons… DUI, medical issues, too many “points” for infractions, etc.

It is a license to drive. There is no right to drive. It’s a privilege, earned by proving your understanding of the law and basic vehicle operation.

I have a simple proposal that would revolutionize the safety of drivers and pedestrians, and would lead to a guaranteed increases of funding for public roads.

Ready for it?

This is an idea so simple, it’s unbelievable.

I’m a software developer by trade with 25 years of experience behind me. One of the items I have to deal with on a regular basis, and something everyone reading this is familiar with is the “Software License Agreement.” License agreements are the little modal boxes that appear when you open software for the first time. Or when boot your new phone for the first time. Your computer, tablet, TV… they’are all bound by license agreements.

My proposal is to tie a similar license agreement to the driver’s license. This license agreement could be updated whenever necessary to incorporate new technologies related to driving, tolling, and public safety. It would require that each licensee have a correct and current method of contact tied to their license (as is already required by law).

Every update to the physical license requires a new agreement. Get a new license? Change your address? Renew your license? Lose it? You must agree to the new terms. This would ensure that every US citizen would have to agree to the terms within the next 5 to 10 years.

Typically it’s incumbent upon the user to check the license agreement for changes periodically, but the grantor also sends update notifications via email, text message, or snail mail. In this case, media would most certainly cover changes. Each state office can issue updates via social media channels, or via a simple newsletter subscription.

Why on earth would I propose such a preposterous scenario? It’s simple. While most people are good honest law abiding citizens, there is an ever growing group of individuals that would follow the law to the T with a little more encouragement. States and municipalities have tried various versions of automating the law – red light cameras, speed traps (vans with speed sensitive cameras and measurement), and more.

If your state sees it fit to implement automated methods to ensure public safety, that could easily be incorporated into the agreement.

For example, all toll roads could become speed monitors. They know when you enter and when you leave each entrance and exit. This is a math problem. They already have the vehicle’s license plate, so tying this back to the licensed vehicle and its owner is simple. Other automated means of speed patrol could be implemented – autonomous drones, sign affixed apparatus, etc. If given a range of tolerance (+10%), this would be highly effective at deterring speeding.

Another item in the agreement is red light cameras, and other automated traffic safety items. Driving through a crosswalk when the pedestrian present notification lights are flashing, school zone infractions, passing on the right, trucks in the left lane on freeways, and the list goes on and on. All of these can be automated, and should be.

Imagine going through a toll booth, then hearing your favorite navigation app tell you that you’ve just earned a point on your license and a $75 bill from the state because your average speed between booths was more than 10% of the stated speed limit. That $75 would be charged directly to your toll bill. It’s simple.

This could be implemented in no time, and with a relatively small budget (that would pay for itself quickly), with a simple state issued Mandatory Driver’s License Agreement.

A state mandated license agreement could be updated when new technologies enter the market. For example, what needs to change when autonomous vehicles enter the retail landscape?

If you oppose this idea, I encourage you to take a step back and think about why. It will always come down to the law. Rules are made to be broken, laws are not. If you speed (like I do, mind you) then you’re knowingly and intentionally breaking the law. Any aversion to automated testing is a personal plea to allow you to break the law. I know for a fact that I’d speed less (I’ve already been far more aware, and try to stay under 10%).

Pedestrian safety is an issue that needs to be addressed, and current methods are falling short. We have the technology to solve this. And we should.

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Husband, father, epic adventurer, perpetually curious, rule breaker, startup guy, innovator, maker.

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