Getting a driver’s license can be an exciting achievement for teenagers and adults in the United States. It signifies increased freedom, responsibility and privilege. You can go anywhere and do anything and the sense of pride and accomplishment you get from passing your training is as significant as graduating from school, landing your first job and other milestones in life.
What isn't as fun is the actual training. While each state varies, the required driver education is typically a set amount of supervised hours on the road as well as passing a theory and medical test. Something that can seem pretty daunting for a new driver.
Seeing our younger family members go through this training got us wondering, just how does the United States’ training program compare to the rest of the world? Is it much easier or much harder for the rest of the world to obtain a driver’s license? The answers may surprise you.
In Brazil, the single biggest threat to motorists is grand theft auto. Car-jacking is so prevalent in fact that would-be drivers are taught defensive driving techniques as part of the required training. I wonder if not coming to a complete stop is the number one deterrent?
In Finland, it takes at least two years for a citizen to obtain a full, unrestricted license. Learners are subjected to skid-pan sessions and night-driving courses amongst other things, making Finland one of the hardest countries to obtain a license.
Conversely, India’s driving test, until recently, consisted of driving forwards through a pair of cones and then reversing straight back through the same cones. Even worse, Nigeria used to allow anyone to obtain a license for a fee of about $30 dollars. It’s not until recently that taking a driver’s test became compulsory.
In Russia drivers have to pass a mental fitness test and keep possession of the certificate. If the learner has any history of substance abuse he or she can be denied based on that alone.
Australia’s Northern Territory limits learners to speeds less than 50 MPH, New Zealand limits the type of passengers you can transport and in Saudi Arabia women are not even allowed to obtain a license.
When looking at the practices of other countries, it’s safe to say America falls somewhere in the middle. Some countries have a world-class standard of driving while other countries allows you to obtain a license as easily as you can buy groceries. So when your young friends and family complain about the complexity of the United States’ driver training course, you can tell them they are lucky, lucky it won’t take two years and they don’t have to worry about the constant threat of car-jackings.