I learned to drive in high school - not in CA. We had an optional drivers ed class. It was free or maybe had a nominal fee to take the permit test. Each high school had a 2-3 sessions of drivers ed per school year.

The class was a full quarter. The first part was lessons from the book to prepare for the written test. If you didn’t pass the written test you couldn’t take the rest of the course. I feel like in SC you couldn’t take the written and behind the wheel at the same time. But it may have been age related.

The next section of the class - maybe half or 2/3 of the time - was the driving part. They would bring a portable drivers training classroom to school for a few weeks. We called it a video game. Each seat had a screen, a steering wheel, and pedals. We’d watch some videos and then have practice time - like a driving game - but it was more common driving scenarios. You got tested on the driver’s simulator.

If you passed the simulator you then got the behind the wheel training for a few sessions. Each kid got a couple of official driving lessons in the district drivers ed vehicle. Our car was a Ford Explorer, the passenger side had an extra brake for the teacher. A few students would get in the car and take turns driving around. Backing up, parking, etc.

And after that I took the test (after a few weeks of practicing with my parents.) I remember thinking the drivers test was hard. I failed the first time on parallel parking and parking on a hill. We didn’t even have hills. You just parked and were told to turn the wheels. We also had no real place to parallel park. So I never tried it post driving test for years.

I was so worried about retaking my behind the wheel test in California. We didn’t have freeways in SC - they were far. Only highways. They didn’t really have exits or on-ramps. It was such a learning curve with parallel parking and freeways. Surprisingly I only needed to take a written test to transfer my license. California test is way easier than South Carolina - which seems very counterintuitive, as the driving is far more complex.

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Sep 17, 2023·edited Sep 17, 2023

Thanks, this is interesting perspective.

I share the experience of pedestrians nearly getting hit because I drive per rules, speed limits.and some driver gets so crazed they have been delayed 10 seconds they do scary dangerous things to get around me.

Also,.I lived near a busy 4 lane arterial road and when in left lane I would stop for peds only to have drivers in right lane blast by me and not see ped in front of me, to the point I stopped stopping for peds if I was in left lane and cars to my right, it was too dangerous

All 4 lane death roads should be converted to 3 lanes, like, now,.2 lanes for either direction and center left turn lanes. Safer for peds, shorter crossings, less hazards like described above and leaves room to put in sep. bike lanes, it is safer for drivers, where lots of crashes due to drivers trying to jump out of left lane to right lane when behind left turner, trying to take left across 2 lanes of oncoming traffic, and 3 lanes mean slower peak speeds but almost no increase in trip times.

There should be massive federal funding 4:3 conversions, easy way to save lives.

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47K+ deaths

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It’s unfortunate and unavoidable on so many levels, but you have joined the most dangerous gang on the planet. The gang of licensed drivers. 47K+ annually in the US alone. It is also a bit unfortunate that you endorse the surveillance state as a solution to endemic speeding. Nothing good ever comes from giving the state powers of surveillance. Predictably people of color will bear the brunt of enforcement full stop.

When I obtained my drivers license (1970) I learned then what was known as the rules of the road. That ethos no longer exists. Sadly driving now is a free for all that has been aided and abetted by traffic engineers who design our built environment to maximize the efficiency of the flow of cars and trucks. I would argue that it is they who should be held accountable for the dangerous results of thoroughfares they design as much as the crazy ass drivers. For the most part drivers behave at what they see before them. Speed limits are meaningless. Posting a speed at 35 mph on a road designed for 50+ is fantasy. Are you familiar with 85% metric in analyzing travel speed behavior? https://www.autoblog.com/amp/2023/08/23/speed-limits-dont-matter/

Good luck and drive defensively!

My best wishes.

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Yes to your insights around road design. I've been visiting Portland, Oregon, for over 40 years, and spent much of 2022 there. They are installing infrastructure there to slow down traffic, including bike lanes, bump out, etc. And they are following the Vision Zero initiative.I was usually walking, taking transit, or biking there and I felt much safer than I have in the past. But the real difference was when I drove - I felt so much calmer than in the past. Driving at 20mph (or less) through city streets felt infinitely safer to me as a driver, and was obviously safer for pedestrians and bicyclists and other drivers. For me it was a win all around - as a pedestrian, bicyclists, bus rider, driver. Thank you for your essay.

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Sep 17, 2023·edited Sep 17, 2023

Still think if CA had more, better bike infrastructure, a lot of the transit take 2-3 hrs could be replaced with much shorter ebike rides with ease of parking and avoiding congestion that cars don't have, but when it comes to sprawled out suburbs and 15 minute car drives, if not congested, that's a15 mile trip and that would take an hour on a bike, so becomes impractical time sink again for frequent trips compared to driving

Having said that, because there are separated bike paths the whole way, I regularly ebike commute to suburb 15 miles away, it takes one hour both ways but so nice, the bike commute is nearly identical to what I do with my leisure time on weekends, go biking on nice paths.

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