My daughter is officially licensed to drive a vehicle, which is wonderful and terrifying.
Instead of driving her to a party last night, my dear wife suggested that I let the young one do it herself. For practice, she said.
During the ride, to take my mind off my impending death, I explained to my daughter that being licensed to drive a car is a privilege and meant she would be responsible for her actions behind the wheel. I couldn’t tell if she nodded in agreement or just bobbed her head to the pop farce coming out of the car radio.
On the way home and in a much more relaxed state, I got to wondering what it would be like if we licensed drivers the way we license financial advisers.
Would being licensed to drive work if it was done through a collection of driver dealer groups (let’s call them DDGs), instead of individually?
Getting your license would be done through your DDG, which would not only take you through testing but also provide all your subsequent vehicular resources. Lessons, cars, repairs, car washes and petrol vouchers would all be organised on your dealer app, with pinetree shaped air freshener tags accompanying all purchases.
Once you were licensed, you’d drive under the DDG’s banner and represent them on the road. You could even have a personalised number plate, so if you were the 48th driver to sign up with the GoFast dealership, you’d be GoFast48. I’m sure it would be something much less racy, but you get the idea.
Breaking the road rules would result in a fine or loss of points only if the dealer group decided to report the transgression, which they wouldn’t be obliged to do. However, if they did report you, you could show your displeasure by simply switching to another DDG. You wouldn’t have to worry too much about the new group checking your driving history either, as employment checks would be entirely optional.
Green slip prices would fall dramatically as GoFast and its cohorts leveraged their scale for discounts. Insurers would also benefit by rating DDGs according to their record of road-rule breaches and vehicular compliance.
If you were the type of driver who likes spoilers, gaseous exhaust systems and gaudy chromatic rims, you’d need to find one of the less reputable ‘DDGs of last resort’. The support resources would be negligible but you could get away with running on bald tyres and they wouldn’t ask you to wear seatbelts.
The downside to this DDG arrangement would be that you might well have to drive the car mandated by the group’s Approved Vehicle List (AVL). If your DDS had a vested interest in Toyota and wanted to take advantage of a vertically integrated vehicle arrangement, you might find yourself driving a 2002 Camry.
(My daughter wouldn’t be too happy about that, but any car that makes her less interesting to the opposite sex is fine by me.)
You might also need to compromise on safety and performance if your dealer group has a cosy arrangement with a budget mechanical repair. Sorry, but Approved Mechanic Lists (AMLs) would be part of the reason you got such a great deal on your DDG fees.
If the DDG thing wasn’t working, you could always look into self-licensing. You’d miss the support of having a DDG behind you but you’d have a plethora of specialist best-of-breed mechanics and vehicle providers to choose from. It would all be off-the-shelf, but at least you’d get to pick which shelf. As I pulled into my driveway, I considered what a Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Vehicular, Mechanical and Automotive Services industry might look like.
My mechanic, Terry, isn’t good under pressure and wouldn’t fare well on the stand. Fortunately, he faints every now and then, so there’s an easy out if he needs it.
Dixon Bainbridge is fanatical about any number of inconsequential issues. Contact him on email@example.com