What About Driving Licences?

A major facet of the majority of individual’s lives is owning and using a car or other form of automobile. In a stateless society, like the one envisioned by libertarians and anarchists, this reality would remain, being a central part of everyday life. Thus questions of licencing, insurance and road safety become key in determining how driving and using a vehicle in a stateless society would function. Without the state, it may be said that there would be no official administration to enforce the licencing of drivers and make it a legal requirement to have insurance. As a result, it is argued, the roads would become extraordinarily unsafe. However, this argument doesn’t hold up to any critical examination. Firstly, insurance companies would still exist as most individuals would realise that the risk of driving uninsured would be greater than the benefit of not having to pay an insurance premium. Secondly, private licencing authorities would develop, working alongside insurance companies or even road safety charities to make sure that new drivers would be equipped with the skills necessary to drive safely. The licences that these authorities create would potentially be used by insurance companies, meaning that to get insurance from a particular company, you would need a licence from a particular licencing organisation.

As stated, most insurance companies wouldn’t insure drivers who didn’t hold a licence from an approved licencing authority, and even if they did the premiums would be so expensive that most people wouldn’t be able to afford unlicenced insurance. Thus it may be said that then you’d have many more unlicenced, uninsured drivers on the road. However, the risk involved in this decision would be so high that you’d have to be extremely confident that you would never get in an accident. But for arguments sake let’s say you do end with more uninsured, unlicenced drivers on the road. What happens if they get in an accident? Well then they either have to pay massive compensation to the driver they’ve had an accident with, settle personally with the driver without using the insurance companies or do a hit-and-run. In the last case, they would have committed a crime, and if caught would be required to pay both a form of fine for committing such a crime as well as compensating the other party. Thus the talk of unsafe roads is absolute nonsense, with the status quo most likely remaining due to the cost and risk of driving uninsured and unlicenced.

With roads, a similar system could be developed. As a stateless society has no central authority, roads would be owned by communities, businesses, road companies, charities, etc. Thus the rules that govern who can drive on these roads would be decided by that roads owner/owners. As a result, a road-owner could enforce a rule whereby anyone who wanted to drive on his/her road would have to have a licence. This would be enforced in the same way tolls are enforced on toll roads: through barriers. Before being able to drive on such a road, the driver would be required to scan their licence before entering. Now it may be said that a road owner would simply allow unlicenced drivers to drive on their road as it makes more profit. However, when it came to liability claims that owner would be in a rock and a hard place, as they would pay the cost of those drivers’ recklessness if they were unlicenced as well as uninsured. Thus it would be their interest to make sure they only allowed drivers who were licenced to drive on their roads.

Overall, any argument that suggests that roads and driving in a stateless society would somehow be less safe or unsafe is presenting a falsehood, and has no understanding of the complexities of private ownership, insurance and liability.

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