Should Special Licenses Be Required to Drive High-Performance Vehicles?

High-performance vehicles are easier to find and more accessible now, more than they’ve ever been. Should owners and drivers be required to have more training to operate those cars?

byAaron Cole| PUBLISHED Oct 17, 2022 12:47 PM
Should Special Licenses Be Required to Drive High-Performance Vehicles?
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Commercial driver’s licenses have been around for 30 years this year, a result of a federal initiative to standardize states’ rules for heavy vehicles. The law took effect in April 1992 after a yearslong push to standardize those rules for trucks traveling on interstates. 

The net effect of federal baseline standards for state-issued commercial driver’s license (CDL) programs has been numerous lives saved, according to the feds, and a higher standard for commercial drivers behind the wheels of heavy trucks transporting multiple trailers or hazardous materials. 

Ask anyone with a CDL and they’ll be the first to say that getting a CDL is no walk in the park. Those Class A, B, and C tests are rigorous — for good reasons — and different endorsements are needed by long-haul truckers to carry certain loads. A CDL is understandably tougher to get than a regular driver’s license, which in some states no longer requires an on-road test

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That leads us to our question: Should there be a separate license required for drivers who want to drive vehicles that are considerably faster than other cars on the road?

The gap between performance, size, and weight among new and used cars now is wider than it ever has been. Electric vehicles that accelerate faster than falling off a building are relatively common, high-horsepower coupes and SUVs with more than 500 horsepower aren’t considered “exotic” any longer, and pickup trucks keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger. There’s been exponential growth in the weight, size, and performance of passenger vehicles since driver’s licenses became requirements in most states nearly 80 years ago.

However, one of the biggest contributors to improving anyone’s economic situation is mobility. Or, put more simply, people need reliable and effective transportation to get to work. That’s why simply making the driver’s license test tougher for everyone may not be the best solution. The high-performance, heavier, and bigger vehicles are, for the most part, not the majority of what’s on the road. 

So, we want to know: Should we have a tougher licensing system in place for specialty vehicles? (Other countries are considering the same.) How would that be enforceable? Should it vary from state to state, or be a federal program? 

Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think.