The real miscreants are much harder to unearth. Who checks anyway? Those expensive traffic signs on motorways have cameras. They can check us as we pass!
It’s OK to bash the young: an 18-year-old driver is more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash as a 48 year-old. One in five new drivers has a crash within six months of passing their test. Young male drivers have much higher crash rates than young female drivers. Young male drivers aged 17-20 are seven times more at risk than all male drivers – but between the hours of 2am and 5am their risk is 17 times higher. They can’t help themselves. Their brains have not developed any understanding of fear.
Recognise that one in three cars on the road are likely to be uninsured. One in ten 18 to 34 yr-olds don’t even know you need insurance, and many can’t afford the premiums anyway. Why bother? If caught the police can issue £300 fixed penalty. If caught is the problem. When did you last see a policeman?
You can renew a licence online but it takes guts, and you are soon aware that the authorities want to know all about you. This is no longer a free society. Before you start the application process you need a government ID. This is the back door to an ID card.
Understandably they ask for your name. I got that wrong when applying. I no longer use my middle names, but they show on my old licence. The government software was intolerant, unable to cope with that omission, so I had to cancel that application, leave the site, and re-enter all the details again.
That was the first hurdle. My name. Followed by address. OK, I’ve been here for over three years so jumped that hurdle with ease. Then we had date of birth, place of birth, mother’s maiden name. Managing all of those I clicked through to the next page.
It goes on and on. I start to get worried when it asks for my email eddress. It needs a memorable date, a memorable name, my memory begins to fail: will I remember all these details? Will I be rejected? No longer be able to call myself an Englishman?
The intrusion continues. Driving licence number is fair enough but National Insurance Number? Then my Passport number is required. I realise, horror of horrors, that they will use my passport photograph on the new driving licence. Forever I will be labelled as a convict – that photo is awful!
As I get close to the end of the application pages I’m told that they are checking the details I’ve supplied with third parties! Who are these third parties? The KGB or CIA? My bank, the secretary of the local gardening club, the police?
I’m beaten into submission and click my agreement, and move onto the final section. I swear that all I’ve entered on this web site is true, so help me. I know I’ll be incarcerated for life if I’ve made a mistake. I promise faithfully to cut my existing licence in half (at least) immediately. I know it’s an offence to possess more than one licence, and I will return the cut halves to DVLC.
It’s a worry. Not least because David Cameron said, years ago, that a driving licence was really important. Perhaps we should be forced to produce one when we vote? He also promised that the Union Flag would be added to the licence. Clearly that cannot now be done as we don’t know if Scotland is leaving.
‘I’m a free man,’ I’ll shout as they led me away.