Does the California driving license need to be harder to obtain?


Learning to drive in the majority of states throughout the country is a relatively easy process. Driving tests with the DMV only take around 20 minutes – at the end, you need a score of 80 or more points. To fail, something extremely disastrous must happen. What are the consequences of having such an easy test to pass, though?

Worldwide 32,000 people die each year due to a car crash. California alone accounts for nearly 10% of the world’s deaths on the road, being 3,000 people per year. This is especially high in Southern California in counties like LA and Orange.

What is even worse, is that California is one of the safest states is the United States in terms of road safety.  Mississippi is the most dangerous, with  a staggering 47.34 fatal crashes per 10,000 residence, with Wyoming following closely behind. The safest states for road safety are Massachusetts, District of Columbia, New York, Rhode Island and New Jersey. Massachusetts averages 11.36 fatalities per 10,000 residences, which is substantially better – but there is still certainly room for improvement. 

Countries with lower fatalities on the road

The United Kingdom

The UK has a population of 64.64 million, yet they only have 1.6k fatalities due to road accidents per year.  California has a population of 39.25 million, yet we have 3k fatalities per year. Something in fundamentally wrong – to have nearly 4x more deaths on the road than the United Kingdom.

The process to learning and passing the UK Driving Test requires much more training. First time pass rates are at a rate of 47%, meaning learner drivers are actually more likely to fail than pass. Furthermore, the average student takes 40, yes 40 hours of lesson time before the actual tests takes place.

Waiting times for driving tests throughout the country can be months long, learners have to try and get lucky through find suitable driving test cancellations to enable them to retake their test, it’s in that high of a demand.

The Driving Standards Agency (DVSA) in the United Kingdom clearly takes safety very, very seriously and their high standards are clearly paying dividends with the current levels of fatality rates in the UK.


Iceland boasts an incredible figure of only 2.8 deaths per 100,000 residences.  This is the safest country in the world to drive in, excluding San Marino, Federated States of Micronesia and the Maldives who I’ve had to leave out due to their small populations. Although Iceland is reasonably small, it’s got a big enough population to determine how many fatalities happen through the road per 100,000 residences. Iceland, like the UK has stricter rules for their learners. It’s an incredibly hard process to pass your driving test, but it’s paying dividends in regards to the safety of their drivers.

Is action needed?

I personally think we should analyze the current statistics and rethink the process on how we educate our young drivers. Training learner drivers to a better standard could potentially save a lot of lives. There’s many new idea’s, which the DMV could implement; like a tougher test, a minimum amount of hours to be taken during lessons, restricting youths to cars with less break horsepower until they’re more experienced drivers.  Observing different countries like the UK and Iceland of whom have much safer roads. Looking at their highway codes and the education they give their young drivers would help our country as a whole become much safer on the road, which I think everybody can agree with, we put so much money into curing diseases – this is a simple problem we can fix.