The Automobile Association (AA) urges parents, guardians, and businesses with learner drivers, to ensure these new motorists are not only trained to pass driving tests but are actually qualified behind the wheel.
More than 1 260 000 learner driving licenses were issued in South African in 2016, according to figures recently published by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).
Last year, 46 183 learner licenses were issued for motorcycles, 273 449 for light motor vehicles, and 942 629 for heavy motor vehicles.
“There is, unfortunately, a tendency among many people to learn to pass a driving test, rather than to learn to drive competently. This is counter-productive and, ultimately, puts drivers on our roads who are certified but not necessarily qualified. If South Africa is to reduce its staggering annual road death toll this attitude must change,” the AA says.
More than 14 000 people died on South African roads in 2016, a nine percent increase on 2015, and the highest annual road death toll since 2007.
The Association says the most important aspect of teaching new drivers is to lead by example, even from a young age.
“Children will replicate behavior, even bad behavior, behind the wheel. For this reason, it is critical that experienced drivers set a good example by adhering to the rules of the road, including driving with respect and the right attitude. It is their responsibility to add safe, proficient drivers to the national driving population,” the AA notes.
Using a driving school to teach learner drivers is a good option, the Association says, but care is needed when selecting the school to use. It says anyone looking for driving schools in their area must:
- Check if the driving school is accredited with the South African Institute of Driving Instructors (SAIDI)
- Ask for referrals from friends who have recently had children go through driving training
- Speak to their children’s school for referrals
- Visit the driving school in person, and observe the training process
- Ask to see the credentials of the people involved in the driving training
- Speak to the people who are currently being trained for their opinion on the quality of the teaching
- Assess at least two or three driving schools before settling on one
- Appraise the progress of the new driver after the first few lessons
“Asking about success rates from driving schools is tricky, as the figures may not be accurate. Observe the school’s methods for yourself, and do your homework before making a final decision. Remember, the goal is to create qualified rather than certified drivers. It is always best to consider the competence of the instructor, and not necessarily the cheapest available option,” the AA concludes.