December 16, 2021

Abolish Driver's Licenses!

Trust me, I'll explain, but first I need to vent a little bit.

An asshole in a black sedan screeches across the three lanes ahead of you, from the shoulder all the way to the median to make an emergency left turn, nearly taking off your fender or bumper in the process. You know who I’m talking about. Chances are they were driving a BMW 3-series… At least, it’s usually a BMW in my observations, and it’s generally not the higher end models. Most people who can afford the Alpina or M-badged editions don’t treat their automobiles like a cheap hooker. I don’t know what it is about an idiot who buys into the whole “ultimate driving machine” marketing ploy, something about that mentality turns them into an asshole and more often than not those are the individuals who truly don’t know how to drive, and they have no respect for anyone else on the road. Their reckless endangerment of everyone else on the roads is fueled by an arrogance covering up an inadequacy that the pur of an exhaust doesn’t seem to quench, but high speed and recklessness is the go-to medicine for hiding the symptoms of an unyielding depression… Psychoanalysis aside, the ancap Mayor from a small town in Pennsylvania (whom I follow on Twitter) posted a provocative statement, but one that is ultimately an interesting question...

How does a society deal without driver’s licenses? The same as people would if there were no government to build the roads; the market would find a way. But that answer often isn’t enough for most people, they don’t care if there’s a market demand, or that there will be someone—or someones—to fill it. I actually posit that if the government got out of the way, cities might actually adopt more economical and efficient means of transportation. So it’s ironical that the most ardent supporters of traveling by rail are often the most authoritarian socialists among us, by the doctrine of counter-intuitivism the socialists are in all probability acting against their own interests, but that’s probably a thesis for another post entirely.

Getting back to the whole driver’s license issue… This is where I shy away from anarcho-capitalist tendencies, and admit that I’m in favor of some government (often referred to as “minarchism”). My Libertarian justification—notice the big L—is that because you are endangering the lives of others when you get behind the wheel of a car, the potential to violate the NAP necessitates some form of mitigation; licensing is the traditional method by which we do this. BUT, after having thought about it a bit, there may be some free market alternatives to this problem.

Realistically there’s nothing inherently evil or overly oppressive concerning licensing. The problem from an ancap or libertarian perspective is that nothing about the government sanctioning your ability to pilot or propel three thousand pounds of metal, plastic, and rubber down an asphalt strip bears any relation to your actual competence to do so, which is often times combined with the fact that the state (not being an authority on the matter) derives no power to offer an endorsement of that kind. There’s nothing about living your life as a normal individual concerned with menial labor, office logistics, or intellectual pursuits that requires you to be a good driver, or to invest time into developing that skill. The only time that it is a requirement is if you happen to be a trucker or race car driver… Maybe cabbie. Though, the class structure of driver’s licenses being tied to the weight of the vehicle that you can pilot isn’t really congruent with the element that normally causes accidents, which is speed. In fact, it was the BMW’s fault all along.

I personally get a small taste of bile from the back of my throat and feel sweat start to bead above my furled eyebrows when I see an expensive vehicle hurtling down the road at abnormal speeds because I know that nothing about the money spent on the expensive car contributes to an individual’s skills at driving. But, that brings me to the second point, and that is that licensing is prohibitive rather than inclusive or encouraging, and the one lesson I’ve learned is that people do not like to be told what to do under threat of punishment or retaliation, they would much rather be incentivized to do something where the choice is their own to do so.

As an alternative to chasing people around every four or eight years to get them to renew a piece of plastic that is so drastically removed from any education they may have received concerning how to operate an automobile, I propose that we legislate the reduction in cost for automobile insurance congruent to automotive education received by the insured. Devise a structure whereby insurance companies are in a position to dictate the types of things they would request of a driver that would allow them to offer lower rates. It would be a race to the bottom for premiums, and there would come a point where enough educated drivers would be paying such abysmally low rates, but avoiding so many accidents because of their competency as drivers, that insurance companies would hit a profit margin and still be able to pay out on the occasional freak accidents. It would also alleviate the need for so much police or law enforcement intervention, the driver’s track records (quite literally) would speak for themselves.

The way in which this would work practically wouldn't be by determining specific dollar amounts, it would rely on the insurance industry voluntarily supplying their rates and applicable course standards corresponding to reduction in cost for the consumer. The government's only role would be to annually publish the data collected from insurance providers for public consumption. So long as the cost for education was less than any perceptive increase in premiums, there would be an incentive to be an educated and practiced driver due to the benefit of saving the difference, and also comfort in your abilities. And it might not just be measured in cost, this might also be reflected in the amount of coverage as well. Certain driver education completed could be equated to certain perks when it came to what the insurance company was willing to offer. Additionally there’s no reason this structure couldn’t be expanded to allow lenders to offer better rates or be willing to extend larger loans for less valuable collateral based on competency as well, and it wouldn’t have to be solely tied to an arbitrary credit standard the way the system works today.

It seems to me that the one thing most Americans agree on are the ideals of meritocracy. Regardless of whether or not you believe corporations are evil, we should eat the rich and the only way to do so is through authoritarian measure, or that private enterprise is king and the savior of liberty as it is defined in our founding documents, we all can generally agree that those among us who work hard and endeavor to be good citizens are deserving of some praise or accommodation.

Feel free to hit me with your questions and comments. I’m open to having an honest discussion about what our society would look like if we removed the government restriction of driver’s licenses. Would you be the person taking all the driving courses you could possibly handle to be a better and more informed driver? Or would you be the person who didn’t even bother and just paid out of pocket for an insurance company to cover your incompetence?


  1. There will always be some people that will scoff at the carrot and have to be punished or penalized. The market will not do this. I'm not saying the government is doing a great job but I AM asking, "Who's job should it be?" Who keeps the bullies, opportunists, apathetics, and generally uncaring people in check? Who specifically should be held accountable for that?...and please don't say 'the people' because who holds 'the people' accountable, and then we're right back to square one.

    1. I think it depends on the situation. One of the aspects that was brought up on Twitter after I wrote this is that a person's driver's license is often used as a means for local or state governments to punish an individual for unrelated offenses.

      It's less a question of who will be the enforcer, and more a question of why do the enforcers enforce the things they do currently? Taking someone's license away does not stop them from operating a motor vehicle, it only increases the severity of the punishment if they are caught doing something else that the state may not permit.


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