The Rapidian

Is it time to re-examine our driver's license policies?

Should periodic mandatory retesting be done in order to maintain our regular driving privelages? Could this help reduce the amount of accidents and fatalities on the road?
Intersection @ Michigan/Plymouth N.E.

Intersection @ Michigan/Plymouth N.E. /Annmarie Steffes

We need to be more considerate on the roads

We are all forced to share the roads on a daily basis. This is not something that is going to change. Our growing population is resulting in more people on the roads driving at the same time. If we all took the time to consider the other people on the road with us, we might all start having more relaxed non-stressful experiences on the road resulting in less accidents due to impatience and frustration so many of us fall victim to during our daily travels. We all deserve to be safe.

College Ave. exit

College Ave. exit /Annmarie Steffes

Monroe Center/DT Grand Rapids

Monroe Center/DT Grand Rapids /Annmarie Steffes

Should the state of Michigan re-examine policies in the licensing system and set new requirements for acquiring ones driver's license? I absolutely think yes. We should re-examine the current requirements for obtaining and keeping ones driver's license. It would be helpful to re-test a driver once they have reached the age of sixty, if the driver has health issues that may cause them to have issues driving, or if the driver is a habitual violator. This may inconvenience a lot of people and possibly even cause them to lose their driving privileges, but I think human life is more valuable than having the independent ability to drive. After finally having enough of being pushed around and seeing others being pushed around on the streets, seeing the growing tensions on the road bewtween motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, I decided that if I didn't speak out and push for change that I was just as much part of the issue as the offenders of violations on the streets on which I too travel.

Grand Rapids is growing very rapidly and the popularity of our city grows with events such as The Festival of the Arts, ArtPrize, Beer Festivals, conventions like Grand Rapids Comic-Con, its proximity to an international airport and hotels everywhere. As a result, the streets of Grand Rapids continue to fill with visitors from all over the world. I feel the city is becoming more congested with not only vehicles on the road, but also bicyclists on the streets and pedestrians on the sidewalks, all of whom deserve the right to safety as they travel throughout our city.

Everybody has somewhere they either want or need to be. When getting there they either walk, drive, bike or use public transportation. Regardless of how we travel or the reason we are traveling, the safety of ourselves and others around us should be the first thing we are thinking about. Driving my own son to and from school, I am faced with constant struggles because of drivers who either seem to be distracted, in a hurry, or unconcerned with the traffic around them. I have been both witness and victim to situations of drivers pulling out of driveways unsafely in front of other traffic almost causing an accident. I have had issues with drivers that are going ten to fifteen miles slower than the posted speed limit holding up the flow of traffic. Then there are the drivers that are speeding for one reason or another and tailgating other drivers. This is very unsafe. Whether driving distracted, too fast or too slow it is a hazard to the safety of other drives and an impediment to the flow of traffic.

It seems that more people on the roads are driving distracted, are uncomfortable with driving, have health issues that keep them from being able to drive and control their vehicle comfortably and safely, don't know how to properly drive or just plain do not care about the rules or laws set for drivers in our city. With the growing number of accidents in Kent County and the growing number of people on the roads in Grand Rapids, whether it be a long term resident or a visitor to the city, this calls for the re-examination of how we set laws and guidelines for driving on our roads and obtaining ones driver's license. In addition, we should re-examine the limits and posted signs in our communities. I'd also like to see an increased police presence watching for distracted drivers, people driving slower than the set speed limit and drivers that may be struggling on the road. We all deserve to be safe and I believe it is our duty to each other as we travel in the same community and share the same roads to ensure that we are not taking the right to safety away from anyone else.

Distracted drivers are a hazard for a couple of different reasons. Some fail to stop, see signs, signals, or other vehicles because instead of having their eyes on the road and the vehicle they are in control of, they are distracted by a phone call or text message. I've seen women driving and swerving while putting makeup on in their rearview mirror and other times rear-ending other drivers because they were distracted and didn't know that something on the road had changed. Sometimes distraction can cause a driver to veer into other lanes of traffic. Because of her years of experience on the roads, being part of and watching our community grow for more than fifty years, I spoke to Mary Ann Nichols Beach, a long term resident of Grand Rapids who talked about her own experiences driving in Grand Rapids. "I have seen drivers distracted by their cup of coffee or messing with buttons on their dash, watching a movie on their phone or texting," Nichols Beach said.

People with certain health issues can be dangerous drivers too. It could be difficult for such a person to maneuver and control their vehicle causing a great reduction in their ability to drive fluently with the rest of traffic on the road and in turn causing accidents that can lead to property damage, injury or death. There are many different health issues that I think doctors should look closer at when determining what type of care their patients need and whether or not they should be drivers. I think doctors and caregivers need to get more involved with the Secretary of State and the driver license issuing process so that they can do their part to keep everyone safe.

According to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts, "In 2014 There were 37,945 drivers involved in 20,620 motor vehicle crashes in Kent County. Of those crashes, 53 were classified as fatal, resulting in 54 fatalities. An additional 4,892 persons were injured." With the growing population of the world I do not see this number getting smaller in our area let alone any where else. Unless we do something now to teach people to be more conscious and mindful of what is going on around them when operating a motor vehicle, walking a sidewalk, bicycling or using public transportation I only see the number of crashes rising. I think the first step should start with us, our city, our state and the rules, regulations and requirements we currently have set as policies to achieve and maintain a drivers license.

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