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Wgu Djt1 Task 2

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Mandatory License Testing:
Requiring skills testing for all drivers

Every year automobile manufacturers make improvements to vehicles in order to reduce the risk and severity of occupant injury in the event of a crash. They have added automated driver support features such as backup cameras, and blind spot warning systems. Recently they have introduced collision avoidance systems which automatically apply the brakes in order to prevent impacts or lessen speed in impacts have been added. These improvements do help but crashes still occur and the other vehicles are caught up in traffic jams due to blocked lanes or motorists slowing to see what happened, and sometimes additional collisions occur in those traffic jams; only making traffic conditions worse. All of these systems fail to address the core issue, the drivers which control the vehicles. Research would suggest that all drivers should be required to take knowledge and road skills tests as part of license renewal, because it will take too long for all vehicles to have safety systems, the current license renewal procedures target the wrong driving population, and do not remove unsafe drivers from the road.
The NHTSA has required that all vehicles less than 10,000 pounds have a backup camera as standard equipment by 2018 (Barth, 2014), and 20 automotive manufactures and the United States government agreed to make automated braking systems standard equipment in all cars by the year 2022 (Chappell, 2016). These improvements certainly will help increase road safety, and reduce vehicle collision rates, however the IHS states that the average age of cars on US roads is 11.4 years (IHS, 2014). At that rate, it will be at least 10 years before the majority of all cars on the road to have both of these features.
The number of collisions due to driver error accounted for 95% of total number of collisions from 2005-2007 (Singh, 2015), and while it is conceivable that these safety systems will help, it is unknown what impact it will have but the numbers alone make it difficult to believe that improving vehicle safety alone will cause a considerable impact to the numbers, so government agencies are currently focused on removing higher risk drivers from the road, and have targeted elderly drivers as the ones to be removed. 20 states have increased the renewal frequency for elderly drivers and 18 states require vision screening of elderly drivers more frequently than for younger drivers and 15 states along with the District of Columbia do not allow renewal by mail for older drivers. Colorado allows renewal by mail and online for all drivers under age 66 for two consecutive renewals, however for those over age 66 it’s reduced to every other renewal. The District of Columbia has added a physician’s approval requirement for drivers over age 69, and in Illinois after age 75 a road test is mandatory at every renewal. The pattern of renewal policies would certainly suggest that elderly drivers are at a high risk for at-fault motor vehicle collisions, and the data also would tend to support this assumption; 17 percent of all traffic fatalities are age 65 or more. (Older drivers, 2016).
This pattern is not isolated to just the United States either, in Japan license renewal periods vary based on age and number of driving violations, and range between three to five years. Until September 1998, regardless of their age, all drivers, were required to take a vision test and attend a class on traffic safety that was at least 30 minutes long. In October 1998 the requirements were revised for drivers aged 75 or older; a driving lesson of three hours in duration became obligatory. The age range was revised further in June 2002 when the same three hour class became mandatory at renewal for drivers 70 and over. In June 2009 further renewal requirements were added for drivers age 75+ were also required to pass a cognitive test before they were allowed to take the class. (Ichikawa, Nakahara, & Inada, 2015)
Japan has had these in place since 1998, and that has allowed a lot of data to be collected in order to see if the IIHS’s position that older drivers are crashing less than they used to as a result of the license renewal restrictions is true. When Ichikawa and team reviewed at-fault collision data since 1998 in Japan comparing drivers 70 and older to drivers 60-69 years old in order to determine what impacts these changes to procedures had to at-fault motor vehicle collisions. Their analysis found that neither of the two changes did anything to reduce the collision rates, regardless of how the data was analyzed and that the condition of age alone is not a sufficient indicator of high risk driving.
Renewal procedures based on age alone do not appear to be reducing the collision rates, but the collision and fatality rates of elderly drivers are obviously of concern we should consider what other indicators apart from age could be used to better target drivers as higher risk. Research done at the University of Alabama examined what the correlation was between elderly who have frequent falls and those that were involved in an at-fault collision. Previous studies had indicated that there was a connection between the two; but no study had compared those who had fallen multiple times, to those who had never or just a single fall. Their statistical analysis showed that frequent fallers were two times more likely to have been in an at-fault collision. (Older drivers, 2016) Their tests also showed that frequent fallers tend to have a reduced contrast sensitivity, and also took longer for Useful Field of View and Trail-Making tests. Multiple fall drivers also tended to drive fewer miles per year. This lead Huisingh, et. al. to conclude that a history of frequent or multiple falls could be used to determine high risk elderly drivers.
It would be possible to target elderly drivers who had a high frequency of falling, however that policy would still only reduce or eliminate a small percentage of the collisions. Across drivers of all ages, the number of collisions due to driver error accounted for 95% of total number of collisions from 2005-2007. (Singh, 2015) Of that 95%, 845,000 were due to driver’s inattention, internal and external distractions and inadequate surveillance, (Singh, 2015) and according to Singh’s research, “Decision error such as driving too fast for conditions, too fast for the curve, false assumption of others’ actions, illegal maneuver and misjudgment of gap or others’ speed accounted for about 33 percent of the crashes.” (Singh, 2015) If mandatory skills testing for all drivers were enforced, some portion of the 1,529.000 collisions over the two year period could have been prevented, through increased driver’s skill and knowledge. There is also the discrimination concern raised when there is a differentiation of the renewal period or additional requirements for renewal, just due to the driver being a specific age. That concern is so great that Massachusetts law prohibits discrimination due to age when it comes to licensing. (Kaminski, 2005)
Based on the IIHS, NTSB and NHTSA data, and the studies by Ichikawa and Huisingh, it would appear that the age based renewal policies are not effecting the change intended and that while they are aimed at a group which appears to be of higher risk there are specific conditions which put a portion of that group at risk and that the policies ignore that larger causes of collisions. This is why drivers should be required to take knowledge and road skills tests as part of license renewal, because it will take too long for all vehicles to have safety systems, the current license renewal procedures target the wrong driving population, and do not remove unsafe drivers from the road.

Bibliography
Barth, L. (2014, March 31). Rear backup cameras to become standard on all vehicles. Retrieved from Consumer Reports: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/03/rear-backup-cameras-to-become-standard-on-all-vehicles/index.htm
Chappell, B. (2016, March 17). Automatic braking systems to become standard on most U.S. vehicles. Retrieved from MPR News: http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/03/17/npr-standardizing-automatic-breaking-systems-us-vehicles
Ichikawa, M., Nakahara, S., & Inada, H. (2015). Impact of mandating a driving lesson for older drivers at license renewal in Japan. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 75, 55-60.
IHS. (2014, June 9). Average Age of Vehicles on the Road Remains Steady at 11.4 years, According to IHS Automotive. Retrieved from Institute of Highway Safety: http://press.ihs.com/press-release/automotive/average-age-vehicles-road-remains-steady-114-years-according-ihs-automotive
Kallail, K. J., Johnston, S. C., Melhorn, K. J., Boyce, M. C., Golbeck, A. L., & Frisch, L. E. (2008). The influence of licence status on Kansas child fatalities due to motor vehicle crashes. International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 15(2), 77-82.
Kaminski, J. L. (2005, November 22). ELDERLY DRIVING RESTRICTIONS AND MANDATORY TESTING REQUIREMENTS. Retrieved from ELDERLY DRIVING RESTRICTIONS AND MANDATORY TESTING REQUIREMENTS : http://www.cga.ct.gov/2005/rpt/2005-R-0882.htm
Older drivers. (2016, February). Retrieved from License Renewal Procedures: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/laws/olderdrivers?topicName=older-drivers
Singh, S. (2015, February). Critical reasons for crashes investigated in the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey. Traffic Safety Facts Crash•Stats.…...

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