How important is learner driver training in reducing road crashes and car insurance claims?

learnerQuestion:

HI hope you are well. Is there any way that we can force learners to take more lessons with a proper registered driving school? At the moment people only pitch up two days before their test.
Yes we try to help but we are not magical. At the moment there is no driving in rainy condition’s or night driving. We are not putting competent drivers on the road. Please help

Answer:

We agree with you completely. SAIDI has been saying the same thing for many years – 34, in fact!

One wants to believe that the South African Transport authorities have the best interests of the citizens at heart, but strangely, it sometimes seems that this is not the case.

Some cynical people even say there is too much money to be gained from the carnage. They claim an acknowledged 15 000 people (or more), dying on our roads annually do (after all), create employment for all kinds of people, but surely is the most horrible thought of all, turning us into vultures, feeding off the dead flesh of victims of road crashes?

That said, it is really very difficult to understand why so little has been done about producing safe drivers in South Africa for so many years. We have proof on file of our ongoing efforts to try to get a responsible Government to pass these essential laws. The previous Government did not take the necessary steps, and neither has the new South African Government done so! Just recently, the promised Summit meeting for Driving Schools has been delayed for months again. Why? Is anybody actually determined to change things or are they all playing lip-service?

In order to change the standard of driving right across the country, and to teach all drivers on South African roads to respect and comply willingly with the law, learning the necessary skills and attitudes to become safe drivers, the authorities urgently need to take the step that you want so badly but there is even more that needs to be done:

  1. Make it compulsory for every driving instructor in the country to be registered with an accredited Association, with a Code of Conduct and Constitution, which sets standards in the industry.
  2. Train driving instructors to an exceptionally high standard.
  3. Set up training grounds in each area.
  4. Arrest the thousands of illegal “instructors” who commit fraud daily by offering a service which they do not provide, and robbing the unsuspecting public.
  5. Clamp down on their activities!  At the moment, authorities pose no threat to illegal instructors. In fact, the examining officers are often on social terms with the “instructors” we know to be the ones who abuse the public the most.
  6. Put vehicles through roadworthy tests. Check dual controls after re-introducing the relevant laws.
  7. Check insurance policies.
  8. Check sign-marking of driving school vehicles.
  9. Check to see if receipts are issued and records kept.
  10. Check maintenance of driving school vehicles.
  11. The way many people treat the serious responsibility of learning to drive, is like building a huge office block with no foundations. As soon as there is a bad storm or strong wind, it will be blown over, and everybody working inside will be killed. This is exactly why our road fatality statistics are so high, in fact far higher than officially acknowledged. People just can’t cope in emergencies due to a lack of skilled training.
  12. Strangely, parents will spend about 20 or more years raising their children, and attempting to protect them from every conceivable danger, but when their children are the right age, they very often knowingly and actively encourage a fly-by-night “instructor” to  make use of stolen test sheets in order for their child to pass their learner’s licence test more easily, never realising that their children have never actually studied the law or understood it.
  13. How can their children ever hope to be law-abiding drivers, if they do not have a clue what the law is, or how to apply it?
  14. What does that say about what respect the parents have for the law? Unless a driver actively applies every single law very carefully when they drive, they will not consider this a very important detail. This is called lawlessness.
  15. What example have the new drivers seen at home?
  16. Enforce traffic laws. Excellent laws do exist. Apply them!
  17. As if that is not serious enough, parents go on to select anybody who gives them a cheap quotation, to teach their children to drive. The person might not be in possession of a valid instructor’s certificate, and might actually have a criminal record, a serious addiction to alcohol or drugs, or even be a rapist or paedophile, but only when the child has already suffered at the hands of the abuser, will they object. Our members, the legal driving instructors, have to undergo a police clearance of their fingerprints every year. This is for the safety of the clients, yet parents do not bother to check the character of the person before engaging their services.
  18. I have so many shocking reports on file! (E. g 1. A drunk “instructor” ran away from the scene of a crash he caused, blaming it on the 17 year old boy who had just passed his learner’s licence test an hour before, leaving the teenager in the middle of a busy freeway from Johannesburg to Pretoria. E. g 2 – A father phoned me in a terrible state, reporting that a certain “instructor” (not a SAIDI Member), took his daughter to a bar during a driving lesson, and only took her home late at night. What could have taken place in between?)
  19. We have known of cases where an “instructor” had assault charges against them, and was actually jailed for physically abusing his own wife and children. How safe would a vulnerable, nervous new driver, a teenager, be with that type of person if he or she became angry during a natural mistake on the road as a new driver?
  20. What seems to bother a lot of parents the most though, is the “instructor” who runs off with their money. It happens repeatedly. I have a case right now of a colleague taking close to R4000.00 from a member of the public for learner’s and driver training, so that their son could be given a permanent position at work. As we all know, work is scarce, and this is an important matter to the family, since the father has been retrenched. This money has been held since April by the instructor. It is now September!
  21. So before demanding more driving lessons, let us together petition the Government and Traffic authorities to make sure the standard of training a learner driver will receive is of a very high standard from an honest, legal instructor, then let us include the essential night driving, driving in wet conditions, handling aquaplaning, skid control, the systematic approach to hazards, safe following distances, stopping distances, correct maintenance of the vehicle etc. etc.
  22. By standing together we can bring about the necessary changes to care for every person in our country, giving them self respect, and to provide them with the means to earn a living, and return to their families safely each day.
  23. SAIDI invites every legal driving instructor in South Africa to join us as we, together, bring about these essential changes in South Africa, because we care.

Best Regards,

Pat Allen

National President: SAIDI

Tel no: 012 998 3910

Fax no. 086 553 8650

E-mail: pat@saidinational.org

Website: www.saidinational.org

Also view:

“The consequences of drunk driving and unlicensed driving explained”

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