Neil's News

Driver's License

5 November 2011

The Department of Motor Vehicles are notorious for taking bad photos. Mine was no exception. They managed to catch me mid-blink, giving me the appearance of Down's Syndrome. Joy.

[California Driver License]

Obtaining a driver's license was unsettlingly easy. Four lessons with an instructor, then a 10 minute drive with a state evaluator. The resulting license carries no restrictions, no limitations, and no follow-up. I'm legally allowed to drive a 13 ton truck down the freeway at 100 kph. Now I understand why there are 36,000 deaths a year on US roads; the equivalent of a 9/11 every month.

I have no intention to become a regular driver. The reason I got the license is so that I can use one of Google's self-driving cars. They are not ready yet, but even when they are, it will probably take a decade before the laws catch up to reality and one can operate the cars without a license.

Update: I've been debating whether to post this, and have concluded that I should. Something I noticed when obtaining the license was the segregation of the people at the DMV (San Francisco). Those with appointments (made through the DMV's website) could walk into the building and be seen by the next available clerk. Those without appointments stood in a line that went out the door and wrapped halfway around the building. Of the hundreds of people waiting in line, about 90% were black. Wealthier people with Internet access got priority service and got their license in minutes, poorer people without Internet access had to take a day off work.

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Legal yada yada: My views do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my goldfish.