There are literally hundreds of driving schools nationwide, all aiming to educate and prepare new drivers for their future on the road. The number of crashes on our roads each year, however, brings into question the standard of training that novice drivers receive and what South Africa’s traffic authorities regard as an acceptable level of competence when handling a vehicle.
The start of competent driving begins at home. It’s the old adage of practising what you preach and setting a good example. A novice driver who has seen his parents, family members and friends driving badly is likely to pick up their bad habits, so be sure to set a good example to your children from the onset, reminding them when you can of how important the rules of the road are to all of us.
South Africa is also littered with first generation drivers, who have no predecessor examples to follow.
“In cases like these, safer driving should be taught not only in driving schools, but also incorporated into school curricula for life orientation (LO) studies,” says the Automobile Association (AA).
He goes on to explain that being a competent driver is all about your experience behind the wheel. “In the USA, a novice driver is only considered experienced after five years of being behind the wheel, and we need to adopt a similar principle here.
In Gauteng, since the demise of the shared services call centre, it has become very difficult to obtain bookings for driver testing simply because there are differing requirements at each testing station – some accept bookings for all Gauteng residents and others only for residents of that particular municipality.
“The AA’s biggest concern is that delays in getting tests scheduled will invariable lead to some learner drivers considering the illegal option which of course results in more incompetent drivers on our roads,” said the AA.
“The extent of corruption between driving schools and some government officials is something that has to be investigated. Not only does it have the knock-on effect of putting more bad drivers out onto the road and encouraging a disregard for the law; it puts people’s lives in danger.
“By getting a licence when you are not ready and by buying your licence when you cannot drive and do not understand the rules of the road, you are significantly adding to the risk of being involved in a crash.”
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1126