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Editorials and Opinions

RMV puts profit before road safety

By Alex Gershanov
Published: October 2010

You just turned 16 and a half and got your license. Congratulate yourself.
This is a momentous occasion if not a milestone in your life. Not only have you earned the freedom to get from place to place by your own volition, but you have earned yourself a dainty little spot within the RMV’s cash crop, otherwise known as licensed teenagers.
A bureaucrat’s dream, the RMV licenses kids for driving 50 feet, backing up, and doing a three-point turn.
Then, surprised that these fit and able drivers, such as yourself, are killing people on the road in record numbers, they impose fines that make you wish you had never gotten your license. And while you cringe reading your suspension notice, the RMV cashes a fat check, smirking at the success of its clever trap.
Gotcha.
Consider the fines associated with a speeding ticket for a person under age 18.
For the sake of example, let’s take a situation that is just oh so familiar to me. You got pulled over on the Mass Pike. Your ticket reads 75 mph in a 65 mph zone. Disregard the fact that the only time the Pike moves any slower is during rush hour.
First you pay the speeding ticket – $100. In a week’s time, you get a suspension letter alerting you of two attitudinal-retraining courses you have to take (1984 anyone?) – $150. Next, after waiting 90 days, you pay $500 for your license re-instatement fee.
Afterwards (no you’re not done yet), you pay somewhere along the lines of $80 to retake the permit test and driving test. That last value is vague, as it is nearly impossible to obtain any definitive piece of information from the RMV website, and three different sources describe three different prices. Hence, an average.
Five and eight is thirteen, carry the one and¦ your total is: ridiculous. Carrying a JOL, the minimum speeding ticket will cost you over $800.
And that’s before your already blasphemously high insurance rates go up after your good neighbors at Allstate hear about your little hiccup.
But why? Why such high fines, why such a merciless grip on our lives? The RMV will say, “It’s for prevention! Fair enough. But why is there a need to prevent anything in the first place?
Granted, young drivers have always been the most likely to get into car accidents, but this no-tolerance speeding policy has only been in effect for a few years.
How can the RMV declare it is supporting safe driving when it licenses kids for performing maneuvers a ten-year-old could do were he tall enough.
The driver’s test does not adequately assess a person’s driving ability, as experience tells me. Half of my friends should not be allowed on the road altogether. Several of them openly admitted it to me!
The question, then, is how can the RMV allow these student drivers, who endanger themselves and everyone around them, to whip two-ton blocks of steel all over the state.
Oh right, their conscience is cleared by the fact that they enforce “preventative measures in the form of ludicrous fines. Meanwhile, they conveniently profit off these teenagers and their parents, who aren’t already under enough financial burden trying to send their kids to college.
The ethics of it are all wrong. Make the driver’s test harder. The way you create a safer driving environment is by constructing a test that takes either experience or inherent-skill to pass, not a 40 hour drivers-ed course, through most of which you slept.
Suddenly, the drivers who are getting into the majority of speed or skill-related accidents are not driving. Those with adequate skill and who are less likely to crash in the first place will still be able to pass the test. Could it be? A responsible alternative that not only saves lives but saves your parents some money?
Why hasn’t anyone proposed this earlier, you might ask. How come the U.S. has one of the easiest driving tests in the world? Because that’s what makes the RMV the most money, and that’s what the RMV likes.
Don’t kid yourself, newly appointed driver – the road is not your oyster, and you are not invisible to police (even if you’ve gotten lucky once or twice). They will find you, they will fine you, and the RMV will keep raking it in.

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