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State Driving Tests - Is it time for a big change?

I’m in PA and drivers take only one driving and non-driving test their whole lives.

What are the cons of revamping laws so that tests are both harder and more frequent?

Along with that why not make the cost of the test inversely proportional to number of years driving?

So when you first get your license the cost to test is high… because it should be difficult to get a license.

As you get older you get randomly called to be tested and because of that the test costs reduce…in fact the test cost is zero for drivers over 65 (but also more mandatory).

Each driver gets tested at least once every 10 years. But, the larger the number of years you drive the lower the cost of the test (but not the difficulty, regardless of driving record).

I’m in PA, too. I passed my driver’s test in 1968. It involved answering some basic questions, driving around, slowly, in a parking lot, and proving I could parallel park the car without hitting the curb. At no time during the test did I operate a car on a public road.

I couldn’t tell you how the test is conducted today, but I’ll bet it’s not substantially different, and judging by the local drivers you’d never know there was a test at all.

I’m all in favor of stricter requirements for a driver’s license, but the public would howl if they were enforced. People view driving as a right, not a privilege, and EVERYONE thinks he or she is a good driver. Just ask, you’ll see.

I find it interesting that legislation in PA to restrict cell phone use or texting while driving has been shelved until next year. If the legislature can’t even agree on that, how will they ever agree to a more stringent driver’s test?

Then there is the issue of older drivers, which is another can of worms. I agree that drivers should be tested periodically, but the bureaucracy to do so does not exist. And who’s going to suggest creating a new bureaucracy, with taxpayer’s money, that will remove older drivers’ privileges if they fail the test?

There’s a lot that could be done to improve driver training and testing, but I don’t see it happening any time soon. Perhaps not in my lifetime.

But, hey, you could run for office on a driver training platform. I’ll vote for you.


Ok, fair enough… .make all the tests the same cost… no problem…just have them be difficult and more frequent.

AL500, says why? Answer: Save lives.

"And who’s going to suggest creating a new bureaucracy, with taxpayer’s money, that will remove older drivers’ privileges if they fail the test? "

Ok, so are you saying the state knowingly trades lives for revenue?

No, I’m saying the PUBLIC doesn’t care about this issue, public will not like the additional hassle if it were proposed, and they will not be willing to pay additional taxes for it.

Maybe I’m wrong. Write your local legislators and tell them you support tougher driver’s license test requirements. See how far you get. Maybe you’ll get the ball rolling.

I agree it would be better if young drivers had to actually know how to drive in order to get a license, but the reality in America is different.

Good luck.

I think mcparadise is right on in his statements. Any plan that involved taking licenses away from a significant portion of the general citizenry would not go well with the voters. A couple of comments:

  1. As for “trading lives for revenue” we trade lives for money all the time. For example, if a safety measure for airplanes costs too much money per life saved, it doesn’t get implemented.

  2. I’m not sure how much testing would help, because many accidents are caused by other than a lack of basic skills. For example, someone who habitually drives DUI could sober up one day to pass a test. A habitual speeder would likely slow down during the test. A habitual texter/cell phone user would not do so during the test.

  3. I don’t agree with making the cost of the test high initially. The cost of the test should be more related to the cost of administering it. Perhaps instead the frequency of the test could be adjusted based on the person’s driving record–as the person goes longer without an accident or moving violation, the test is given less frequently. Conversely, people who rack up points are tested more frequently.

  4. None of this addresses the problem of people (such as habitual DUIers) who drive on suspended licenses. And to those of you who give the easy answer “put them in jail” I say, fine–just tell me where to raise taxes to pay for all that extra jail space. Doesn’t matter how long you stick them in for–they’ll start driving again the day they get out.



Raising revenue through higher fees is simply a regressive tax. When Romney was governor here in MA he doubled (or more) all license fees in the state, including driving and professioanl licenses, denying that they are taxes, calling them “optional”.

Until we start planning our commuities in such a way that the car is not integral to our society, a license is no longer a privelege, but a necessity. Nobody wants to pay more for something they are told they MUST have. Holding a license does not inherently make one a better driver, tests or no.

More testing = greater RMV (or DMV depending on your state) costs, which means higher taxes. that’s the larger government so many people seem opposed to.

Why test every X # of years? Do people forget how to drive? Better to just re-test the elderly, or require annual doctor’s certification after a certain age. Short of eliminating some elderly drivers, notjhing about retesting “saves lives”, and at what cost even if it did?

I think it would be a great start if everyone had to pass the written test in english. All signage is in english, vehicle controls, owners manuals.

I would also take a more median approach and say that after a certian age you have to pass the tests more often. I would support a mail or online test for everyone every eight years to make sure everyone is remebering the old rules and stays current with the new ones. A driving test after age whatever to make vision, judgement, and reaction are all up to snuff to drive safely.

Good luck getting anything age related passed as the older you get statistically the more likely you are to vote. Political suicide comes to mind

I would take this long before the obsession with “distracted driving.” The fact is that you can get a license anywhere without really knowing how to drive.

I do think that it’s entirely too easy to get a license in this country, and it shows. Few people excercise proper lane discipline, even fewer have the slightest idea about how their own car works. In the U.S. all you really need to get a license is one good eye and heartbeat. IHMO tests should be more demanding.

There are so many skills that go into being a good driver. Older drivers compensate for slower reaction times with better judgment than younger or new drivers. So, what test is really fair?

Even drivers that pass the test can be impaired by alcohol, drugs, and distractions like texting. What about drivers that have night vision problems?

Perhaps someday a car will have a system that determines if the driver is impaired and shuts down the car if it detects too much random weaving. There is no test you can give on a any given day the means a driver will be a safe driver.

As I age I become more tolerant of old driver’s who really just need to get to the store, the doctor, the post office, and visit friends and family. I think it is up the friends and families of older drivers to advocate for an unsafe driver to hand over the keys.

I’d like to see more training and stricter testing for initial licenses, but beyond that I think retesting should be based upon driving records. With today’s computers that sort of thing is easy to track, and the software could even pop a “red flag” to the DMV for those whose driving records exceeded certain trigger parameters. That to me makes more sense than routinely retesting people who have been driving accident free for decades. The money would be better spent.

It would put a strain on an already severely belabored system. Let’s say that the number of drivers of each age (e.g., 16,30,65) are equal. If we just count drivers between 16 and 66, there will be 50 times more drivers eligible for test. If the test occurs every 10 years, then there are still 6 times as many people taking tests. Even if the number were only half that, there would still be 3 times as many tests each year. This would require many new facilities and a lot of new state troopers to take care of the load. It could make a great jobs program, but it would still be very expensive. Yes, the tested could pay for it, but that’s another tax (oh, um, fee…) on the citizenry.

Don’t bother quibbling about the numbers. I only want to show that no matter what, there’s a lot of extra work and facilities needed.

Everyone who drives is continually being tested. Do too many stupid things and then you lose your license. On the way to that end, your insurance costs will go up and that will serve as a reminder for most reasonable people to shape up!

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you can stay alive on a motorcycle, then safe car driving is easy in comparison. I’d like to see a way to give credit for this in the form of reduced insurance rates or longer times between retests if formal retesting is begun.

Driver licenses have to be easy to get in the US as we have few good alternatives for short and medium length trips as compared to Europe where you could live quite well without an automobile.

No, I do not. I said what I meant and meant what I said.

And do not again attempt to insult my moniker by tacking on this “blahblah” crap. If you continue to try to twist the staements of others, continue to insult others, and continue to attempt to personalize debates rather than focus on the subject, please do not respond to any future posts of mine.

You made some excellent points. When I taught my kids to drive I always told them (repeatedly) that every time you get behind the wheel you’ll see someone do something dumb, and if you’re not driving in a manner as to avoid someone’s dumb move from causing you to be in an accident, you will be in many. I suppose we really are being continually tested.

You also make a good point about there not being any alternatives in most of the U.S. But I personally would like to see better up-front training and testing.

Actually to get your first pilots license (Private) the basics of the fuel, electric, and other flight systems are cover quite extensively.

I agree that ZW’s post was needlessly insulting, but that is really nothing new.
I suggested several months ago that people refrain from responding to ZW’s taunting posts, as he/she does not add anything of substance to this forum.

You are one of a handful of truly valuable contributors to this forum, and anyone who insults you is merely revealing a hostile nature that is very indicative of his/her own insecurities.

Now, if only folks would do what I suggested, by not responding to posts like that…

Oh, and by the way, your suggestion for tracking a person’s driving record was a very good one.

Sincere thanks. You too are an invaluable contributor. We really have a pretty good bunch on this forum overall and should consider ourselves lucky. But, then, in every garden a little rain must fall…

…and in every garden, a few weeds will grow.

It’s just a shame that the site’s moderators don’t trim some of the weeds frequently enough.