Minnesota issued its first driver’s license in 1934. A single 25-cent fee covered licenses for every member of a household. You didn’t have to prove you were a good — or apparently even sighted — driver: No test was required. A Mr. Inky Campbell of Minneapolis called attention to the situation in this persuasive letter to the editor of the Star. Within two years, Minnesota began testing prospective drivers. But vision was not part of the renewal process until 1972.
Poor Driver Slow, Poor Driver Fast
To the Editor: The other day I saw a man attempting to park his car. He was making a considerable hash of the effort, and it took him a full five minutes.
Any person incapable of parking a car properly may well be incompetent to drive a car under any conditions. The man who cannot judge distance at a snail’s pace becomes a serious menace at higher speeds.
But in Minnesota how are we ever to know who these bumbling drivers are?
We need a driving test in Minnesota. The legislature has refused time after time to do anything about it. We should begin right now to hammer away on this driving-test business. We can’t afford to pass up the next opportunity for putting some sort of check on unfit, unqualified motorists.
Inky Campbell, Jr., Minneapolis
This 1946 photo of S. Fifth Street, looking south toward Nicollet Avenue, illustrates the challenges faced by Minneapolis drivers 70 years ago. Imagine trying to navigate a hulking Chevrolet through this bustling maze of automobiles, streetcars and pedestrians. (Minneapolis Star photo)