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Behind the Wheel, Around the World

by Christopher Driscoll

Namibia, Swaziland, and Thailand are some of the most dangerous countries in which to drive, reports World Life Expectancy. Contrarily, Japan, Fiji, and Switzerland remain some of the safest countries to drive in, with the lowest death rate per accident. Even Canada with 6.8 fatalities per 100,000 accidents seems to do better compared to United States with 10.4 deaths in the same number of accidents.

Some might feel that death rates could be reduced by more effective testing of new drivers, but is that true? Is there a strong correlation between the difficulty of acquiring a driver's license and the car accident death rate? Let's look in the Untied States to begin this exploration.

New York Driving Requirements Sets the US Tone

New York is the perfect place to explore U.S. driving requirements. Drivers in New York State can get a learner's permit at 16, and at 17 they are eligible for a driver's license after completing a driver education course. This course costs $14.95 and has learning drivers visiting two key locations to test turning, backing up, and the infamous 3-point turn. A 100-word written test needs to be completed as well, which costs $34.95. There is no time requirement here aside from age, which is much different than many foreign countries.

Oversea Driving Regulations: A Broad Look

It is impossible to assess foreign accident rates and driver requirements, but a few stick out. Requirements in Japan are extensive, with students needing 20 hours of recorded on-road driving and full-time attendance at a one month driving course. Japan is the fourth safest driving country, with a rating of 3.8 deaths per 100,000 accidents.

Germany has a similar story, requiring a large quantity of documents and testing. These include:

  • an official translation of your foreign driving permit.
  • an application form for a German driver's license.
  • a passport or ID card with an additional photo.
  • a statement from your driving instructor that you have passed the written exam and the road test.
  • proof of first-aid class attendance in last year.
  • proof of passing medical vision test.

The famous German Autobahn has no posted speed limit. Interestingly, it accounts for only 10 percent of all auto accidents in the country, reports Imagine Lifestyles. Furthermore, Germany mandates a minimum driving age of 18 as well as roughly $1,500 in fees. Comparably, the average cost to obtain a license in the United States is $30, climbing to $180 if a test was failed numerous times and special driver education is required, reports

Driving Down the Road Photo

A Correlation of Safety

By looking at a few isolated countries, the correlation seems clear. The United Kingdom boasts an impressive 5.1 rate per 100,000 accidents, as documented from the Guardian and the UK driving test is considered relatively easy. New car drivers, however, must be accompanied by a front-seat passenger who is over 21 and has had a full driving licence for at least three years. An experienced driver giving advice and emphasizing safety is probably the best advisor for someone seeking a driver's license.

About the Author:
Christopher Driscoll is an English major and freelance writer who commutes to school every day.

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