We often discuss the impact of crime on road safety and the need to root out any form of corruption! On the Arrive Alive website we have also discussed this in more detail on a page titled “Corruption, Traffic Enforcement and Road Safety”. Car insurance companies will agree that incompetent drivers – or let us say those who should not be driving but who are licensed drivers after having “bought” their licences are also adding to road crashes and car insurance claims! We encourage strict processes and effective testing before a driving licence is awarded – but this process should be fair! With our high unemployment rate in South Africa it becomes ever more important for job seekers to have a driving licence. What will be the effect if the driving licence test is not fair and where it becomes nearly impossible for the average guy or girl to pass the test? This will only encourage corruption as more young drivers will seek illegal alternatives to get a driving licence! This is best illustrated with a question emailed to the Arrive Alive website Question: “Good day I am not sure where I should go in terms of complaints. I was advised to go to the Southern African institute of driving instructors. I have recently wrote my learners twice and have failed. I wrote at Randburg licensing department in July and after test I found out that illegal questions that does not comply to the syllabus was in it. One of the questions were what is an exhaust silencer? I failed by one point and feel that it was extremely unfair. I feel that they deliberately made me fail.I hear that this has been going on for quite some time,why doesn’t anyone care? and the department of transport denies such questions in test! Please may you advise me. kind regards” Answer: We referred this to Pat Allen from the South African Institute of Driving Instructors and would like to share her response: Thank you for this referral with respect to question/s outside of the prescribed syllabus for the learners licence.
- Firstly, let me state emphatically that lawlessness on our roads is at an all-time high in the country. We agree that the public should know and apply the law thoroughly.
- We are constantly receiving similar complaints (see below) about the computerised learners licence tests. We so hoped the computerised tests would stamp out corruption and give learner drivers a fair knowledge test as experienced in first world countries, but unfortunately, that is not happening, especially in Gauteng.
- Despite forwarding complaints regularly to the National Department of Transport, Gauteng Provincial Department of Transport and the RTMC, since the inception of the Gauteng Computerised tests, the protestations and cries of the public who are failing repeatedly due to questions outside the prescribed syllabus are being ignored.
- Several authorities have been positively defensive, claiming the public are so used to passing easily without knowing the whole law, (which is actually quite true), yet no effort to remove the troublesome questions from the tests has been made. Apparently those responsible have not taken the trouble to actually read the prescribed syllabus.
- It seems impossible to sort this matter out. The authorities are ignoring all requests for intervention.
- One would imagine that the authorities would be appreciative of the law-abiding citizens, who do not consider buying licences, but try to do things legally, yet the public are hampered in their efforts by failing their learners licences over and over again, despite knowing their work very well. Many people use this as an excuse to buy licences and to driving illegally, which is not an acceptable option.
- Then, once they have eventually (hopefully) acquired a legal learner’s licence (with a more appropriate random selection of questions), and after a considerable delay and a lot more money than necessary has left their wallets, the struggle to find a test date sooner than three months ahead begins, in the hope that they will be ready to do their tests then, or risk forfeiting the moneys paid and re-booking months ahead, if not. Then the battle to find a legal driving instructor who has a high standard of integrity and training, and then to find a Driving Licence Testing Centre where tests are conducted according to the prescribed K53 test standard is a reality, and not a farce, begins.
- No. It is definitely not a straightforward process to acquire a legal driving licence in South Africa. At SAIDI have even experienced a member who has been compelled (by being attacked with assegais, spears and sticks with a young woman in the vehicle who was about to do a driving licence test), to join another Association, (Mpumalanga Driving School Association at a cost of R10 000.00), thereby contravening our Constitution AND BEING REQUIRED TO IGNORE THE CONSTITUTION OF THE COUNTRY WHERE FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION IS ENSHRINED WITHIN THE BILL OF RIGHTS, in order to be permitted to take his clients to a test centre in Mpumalanga, where he can get appointments within a week. He is so determined to continue this practise in order to survive financially, that he will risk being asked to step down as a SAIDI member. Being a breadwinner with four children to support, he can do nothing else.
Now I understand what is wrong with South Africa – no-one listens until people march in the streets breaking public property, (even school children now!), because those appointed to take responsibility for these matters simply ignore the public. This is not democracy working effectively. Speaking as a driving instructor with 35 years of experience, seen from my angle, road safety in South Africa is a hollow sham, despite billions being spent on numerous and ongoing expensive conferences, indabas and Summit meetings. So much for the Decade of Action. Unless the authorities start investigating these constant complaints, what hope is there of effective changes and fair learners licence tests? On behalf of SAIDI, we wish the complainant a test which is focussed on the prescribed syllabus next time. That is as good as it gets at the moment. If things change for the better, we will be the first to celebrate it with great enthusiasm. Let’s hope that someone will decide to correct the problems this time. If so, we applaud them. Best regards, P.A. Allen We would like to confirm that we will from our side strive to bring this to the attention of the decision makers at the highest level! Our road users deserve to share the roads with competent and licenced drivers – and we need to address and remove any measures that promotes corruption in the road traffic environment! Also view: Crime as a Threat to Road Safety