|Posted by from1to10moviereviews on July 23, 2012 at 10:05 AM|
The problem with American drivers, as well as our problems with drugs, alcohol, teen pregnancy, illegal immigration, and low test scores could probably be solved, or at least better understood, through a tale by Aesop.
Aesop told a fable long ago about two beings, the Sun and the Wind. Both were bragging about their respective powers and so they decided to put it to a contest: whomever got the man walking nearby to take his coat off would win. So the arrogant Wind starts first and fiercely blows at the man. But the harder he tries, the more tightly the man wraps his coat around him. After unleashing torrents of energy, the Wind gives up.
So the Sun glides up and shines its rays onto the ground. The man gradually feels the sweat on his forehead and eventually takes off his coat.
The moral: persuasion is more powerful than force.
Aesop was right, and it is a bit frightening how prophetic those words have been. Even in a country as technologically advanced as ours, we still try to solve critical problems with half-brained ideas. The concept of throwing a ton of money and energy toward a goal and hoping it will go away it oftentimes not enough. You need to step back and think. You need to realize that many of our problems are deep rooted and complex, and cannot be solved only with money and fervor, but require intelligence and time.
There are some absolutely insane drivers in Europe, but that is because the traffic system seems to encourage going 80 mph through red lights and maybe chatting with a pedestrian on the way. American systems of transportation are strict in general, yet we still have an alarming amount of deaths from car accidents. Why?
Because we are not talk how to drive. It varies throughout the country, so I'll speak on behalf of Maryland and maybe even the East Coast when I say that we are taught by our friends and family, but not by the government. And this is caused not by a lack of Driver's Education, but on the contrary, an excess of terrible processes that lead to the big, pointless exam.
First you need your permit, which gives you the legal right to drive with someone of age with you. It also can be accumulated by pretty much walking into the door. You take a short quiz on a computer which asks questions about One-Way signs and bike signals, and then you have it.
Then, you need In-Car lessons, which consist of four lessons with an instructor. This is the most useful of the process since you are actually driving a vehicle.
Then you take 10 classes of Driver's Ed, which consists of the most outdated teaching methods and tools. I have heard stories of Driver's Ed similar to mine in that I basically paid money to learn nothing, but there a few things I witnessed which takes the cake.
1. Music videos from the late 80's about driving safety, including one metal song about intersections and one rap about the "no-zones" (aka blind spots) of a truck.
2. A video depicting a cartoon driver going too fast around a cliff, cutting through the guardrail which was apparently made of cheese, and falling into the ocean, after which an ALIEN MOTHERSHIP flies above him and beams him aboard.
3. Every classmate, including myself, openly cheating on the daily quizzes while standing in line to hand them in.
I'm sure every Driver's Ed experience is different in some way, but ask anyone if they learned anything from it, and I'd be surprised to hear a positive response. Personally, all I learned was how to shuffle a deck of cards.
Finally, you have the big exam. Unfortunately, while some useful things are tested (turning the car on, 3-point turns) other aspects could have been replaced (parallel parking). I do not know if California still has the big exam involve driving on an actual road and not a closed-off course, but it is something that should be implemented nationwide. You are testing driving through driving. It could be as simple as ten minutes driving, some parking and merging, and it's done. No pointless quizzes and classes. Just a simple and logical test of your knowledge.
I think that the DMV is also subtly aiding in Americans, at least teens, being bad drivers. You can make TV specials all you want blaming it on hormones but that's something we cannot change. Acknowledge it, sure, but then move on. What you have are teens going obstacle to obstacle trying to get their license. You have half the video games and movies involving high speed chases. And when you put them the most plodding, dreary location ever (waiting in the DMV), it doesn't set the correct vibe. Obtaining a license should be something to look forward to, but not something you want to get out of the way so bad that you'd consider stabbing heels with pens just to cut in line. Similar to the SATS, the process is so painful, so long, that getting the license becomes not so much "Yay I can drive!" but more "Finally that's fucking over!" The first example is a sense of accomplishment, even humbling. The second is a rapid fire release, a liberation. Try to guess which scenario would yield more teens blasting out of the DMV like a runaway train.
You need to consider that people, especially teens, don't always want instant gratification. They enjoy working at something and then reaping the rewards. But if you make the process too long, unpleasant, outdated, useless, and depressing then teens are more likely to rebel against it. And then it will become yet another thing that adds to teen stress, and another thing that teens will do just to get it out of the way. And it shows in their driving, as it shows in most of ours.