Systematic Failure: A Driver’s Education

A South Korean grandmother is celebrating the attainment of a dream. After 950 attempts, the 68-year old finally managed to pass the written exam for a driver’s license.

 It took Cha Sa-soon the better part of 5 years and $4,200 in application fees, but Cha reportedly told Reuters “don’t give up your dream, like me. Be strong and do your best.” Cha, who wants a vehicle so she can better sell vegetables, still has to pass the practical road test before getting an actual license.

 It sounds almost too hokey to be anything other than the plotline of a (very) cheesy comedy film. And yeah, yeah, of course you have to give Cha props for her determination.

 But the story also has a potentially darker side. How many of us have seen (or, worse, been behind) someone who really should not be licensed as a legal driver on the road?

 The other day a car sped past me on the left hand shoulder of a Florida highway – not the road, the shoulder (and I was going 65 miles per hour). Naturally I assumed it was an unmarked police car. A few minutes later I found myself next to the car – it was an elderly gentleman with handicapped tags on his vehicle. When I looked in my rearview mirror a bit later he was driving down the middle of the road straddling the white lane divider.

 This is not intended to be a condemnation of elderly drivers – of which there are millions of perfectly capable operators. But you have to wonder if licensing requirements don’t need a second, or third, or fourth, look for all potential drivers.

 As for Ms. Cha – I sincerely hopes she passes the road test on the first try. If not, I hope South Korean authorities will help her find a volunteer chauffeur or give her a permanent bus card if it appears it will take her another 950 tries to get it right.

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