While a system of insuring that drivers know the rules of the road and have competent driving skills is important to the safety of all drivers and the efficient flow of traffic, having a State-run monopoly issuing driver's licenses is a horrible way to manage this system. Driver's licenses offices have a well deserved reputation for being inefficient, having rude employees, and being difficult to work with. In the Houston area where we are,it takes a minimum of a month to get an appointment, and you can only get one that quickly if you are willing to drive 60 miles from home. The closest office to us required a 2 month wait.
After waiting that month, if you are missing one of the 10 forms they require you to have, you are sent away and required to go to the back of the line, meaning you have another month wait and another 60 mile drive.
Once in the office it is likely that you will experience at least one employee who will be short with you when answering questions, or downright rude.
This is all happens because the government has a monopoly on licensing drivers. Monopolies have no incentive to offer good service or a good product. If you don't like the service the State provides, you can't go anywhere else to obtain a license. This doesn't happen in the free market. In the marketplace, if you don't enjoy the service or product a company provides, you go to a different company. If enough people do this, the company has a financial incentive to improve its service/product, or they risk going out of business.
So I was thinking about how drivers could be licensed without a government monopoly. I'm not claiming to have come up with a perfect solution, but the system we have now is horrible and people just live with it, so why not consider something different.
Maybe we could have auto insurance companies issue licenses. Insurers have a financial reason to verify that their customers know he rules of the road and are skilled and able to drive safely. The safer their drivers are, the more profitable they can be. They might offer different grades of licenses. Go through the bare minimum of training, maybe 100 hours of classroom and behind the wheel instruction and you could get a rate, say $100 a month, for your insurance. Go to more advanced training like defensive driving or accident avoidance and they might give you a rate of $75/month. This system would encourage drivers to complete more training to get more advance licenses for cheaper rates.
The abundance of poor service offered at State-run licensing offices would become a thing of the past. If we didn't like the service we received at the Farmer's Insurance licensing office, we could swap to Geiko, Allstate, or many other insurers. This is not to say we could find someone who who license you if you were not qualified to drive, because these insurers would still want to be sure you were a safe and qualified driver before making themselves financially responsible for you.
I don't know if this is the system that would be best to replace the state run system we have now, but I know that the state run monopoly that now exists is terrible and should be replaced.