The right to travel and freedom of movement are fundamental human rights, these are not privileges that require licensing, they are fundamental rights necessary in order to exercise the right to economic freedom and the right to work. In 2019, within the United States, the primary mode of travel for most individuals is with a motor vehicle. Horses and animals are no longer allowed on public roads as a mode of transportation even though they can be used in limited circumstances such as on designated horse trails or on as ceremonial modes of transportation for police in major metros such as New York and London.
In New York and London, there are extensive rail networks and the buses are punctual and run quite often. The same is true in Paris and Washington D.C. In Washington D.C., Paris, London and even Minneapolis, a person can board a train directly from the airport to nearby hotels. People can get around the city almost exclusively on rail, only having to take a buses occasionally to get to more residential areas of the cities. In New York, it is possible to board a rail from John F. Kennedy international airport into New York but it is not possible to do so from La Guardia which is a smaller airport used for domestic flights. This adds additional costs for domestic flights due to having to fly into an international airport.
This is not the case in Los Angeles County, the most populated area of the United States. The closest rail to the airport, the green line, is 2.5 miles away. From the green line, a transfer is necessary to the blue line to get to Downtown Los Angeles or to Long Beach which is in the opposite direction. From Downtown L.A. another transfer is necessary to get to Hollywood and two additional rail transfers are necessary to get to Pasadena. There are no rails that go to Santa Monica which is another area in Los Angeles County with lots of jobs and attractions. The transfer point from the green line to the blue line is dark and isolated and in a high crime area even though this is a hub between Long Beach, Downtown Los Angeles and LAX.
Buses in Los Angeles have greatly increased in punctuality since 2010 but there are still occasions when the buses are late or don’t show up at all and this can cause an employee to get fired for being late too many times or face the alternative of waiting outside of work for up to one hour before a manager or building security arrives to open up the office or retail location. Some of the buses only run every thirty minutes and if a transfer has to be made to another bus that runs on a thirty minute or more schedule, arriving an hour early to work may still be the only option in 2019. This is the reality in 2019 when most of the working population is concerned with reducing their environmental impact, living in walkable neighborhoods, reducing their environmental impact by taking more public transportation, and working no more than 30 minutes commute from home. With those goals in mind, increased accessibility to small individually driveable vehicles would seem of little concern unless the inaccessibility was in fact violating peoples human rights.
The requirement for a driver’s “license” is a fundamental violation of freedom of movement. It requires those without a “license” to only move along predesignated paths that have been set by city planners and policy makers. It prevents them from free movement throughout the state where they hold residency, since in the United States residency is defined by state and not by municipality, council districts or counties. It limits the forms of entertainment they are allowed to travel to for a visit. It limits their job and career choices since the goal of a 30 minute commute can be hindered by relying exclusively on public transportation and can eliminate higher paying jobs with an established career ladder to work towards.
Someone without a driver’s “license” is also restricted from visiting national parks within the state such as the Los Angeles National Forest which is a federal park without public transportation to and from the park from one of the major rail lines. They are also unable to freely travel to any of the state’s public beaches or even make a trip to the state’s capitol. They can not opt to take a vehicle to work on day they have a doctor’s appointment and arrive late. Instead they have to take the day off and lose out on those wages or take a cab such as Uber or Lyft which can get expensive and cost several hours wages on longer trips during peak hours.
The issue of public safety is often brought up as a reason to categorize driving as a “privilege” and not a right. These “public safety” measures include a “licensing” requirement, vehicle registration and carrying insurance in case of an accident.
As a fundamental human right, the right to travel and freedom of movement can not be restricted or categorized as a “privilege”. It is a required mode of transportation outside of heavily populated areas and even within them on occasions. A vehicle is also a piece of property and one where ownership can be proven through a notarized bill of sale. In the cases of vehicle theft, license plate scanners often fail to capture the plates of a stolen vehicle and the vehicle is often found because it was abandoned or because a vigilant officer noticed it matched a description of one of the stolen vehicles in the area. License plate scanners have a notoriously low hit rate of just 5% and have missed scanning plates of vehicles that were driving directly in front of an officer with a license plate scanner. So in addition to driver’s licenses violating the human right to travel and freedom of movement, car registration serves no purpose and is a violation of human privacy rights.
A property owner should be free to lend their property at no charge to any individual they feel is responsible enough to properly care for their property during its use. This should not require a DMV to act as a liason nor should it maintain a list of individuals who are “qualified” to exercise their rights of freedom of movement and to travel freely. With regards to insurance premiums, on rental vehicles, insurance can be purchased on a daily basis for as little as $9 a day or $275 per month. This is done as a requirement by the car rental companies in order to be compliant with the DMV and it is a good business practice in case the driver does cause damage to their vehicle that they are not able to afford to repair. Given these numbers, there is no reason an individuals insurance premiums should exceed these costs as these are standard costs available nationwide when renting a vehicle that do not fluctuate based on a driving record. It is important to address all three issues simultaneously because the three policies have been used together to restrict the populations freedom of movement and right to travel.
When purchasing a new vehicle, the insurance premiums can be as high as $400 or more which often cause an undue financial burden and hinder people from exercising their right to travel and freedom of movement. If a car rental company can insure people for $9 a day or $275 a month regardless of driving record, this should be set as a mandatory cap on vehicle insurance costs nation wide. With these guidelines, a person using public transportation Monday through Friday and using a vehicle for weekend recreation only, should be capped at a yearly insurance cost of $936 or $78 per month. If they have multiple vehicles, they should also be able to select which vehicle they will be driving that weekend and opt not to insure any vehicles if they will not be driving that weekend. Vehicle insurance is a hindrance to property ownership and while it does have its purpose, it can be managed in a more efficient way.
With the increased use of public transportation, many vehicle owners do not drive their vehicles on a daily basis. Many vehicle owners who take public transportation to work have an inexpensive vehicle paid in full which is used for travel outside their city limits or for travel within the city limits outside the designated public transportation paths. For example, a US Citizen in New York may take public transportation to and from work everyday and have a vehicle for traveling to and from Virginia, New Jersey, Vermont or the Carolinas. They may also occasionally use the vehicle to travel within New York City to places where a public transportation schedule would restrict their freedom to accomplish all their errands within a required time frame. In Sioux Falls, South Dakota; a person may live in the downtown area and walk to work or ride a bike to work on a daily basis but have a vehicle for traveling to other parts of South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota or Nebraska for leisure and entertainment.
None of these scenarios should require a driver’s “license” or yearly registration for a piece of property. In the case of vehicle theft, a property owner can take their notarized bill of sale to the police department and file a stolen vehicle report. In the interim, daily car insurance offered by rental companies can be a solution for driver’s whose insurance premiums are over $275 a month. The $9 a day insurance is also ideal for property owners who have garaged vehicles or vehicles parked in a private driveway and the insurance can be assigned to each vehicle as needed.