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Shock stats on bad SA drivers

2013-06-12 05:41

BACK TO BASICS: Fleet Magazine reported on the "shocking" statistics of young drivers in South Africa. Image: Wheels24

CAPE TOWN - Driving standards in South Africa are shocking, not helped at all by a nigh-useless driving test, flagrant disregard for all traffic laws by a growing sector of the community, poor policing and a lack of proper training.

Fleet Magazine reported that a recent survey conducted by Goodyear (the behaviour of young drivers particularly) suggests they are not adequately prepared and should consider going back to driving school to hone their skills.


Senior traffic and transport officials are reporting drivers on long-distance trips have driven more carefully earlier in 2013 resulting in a reduced number of accidents and deaths but as drivers flocked home from the Easter weekend the statistics continued to climb grimly.

National Transport Minister Ben Martins called for cautionary driving and an obedience to the rules of the road – traits that Goodyear’s recent roads safety survey revealed are lacking from the on-road mindset of South Africa’s young drivers.

Lize Hayward, Goodyear SA's group brand communications manager, said: “Our study was specifically designed to explore a wide range of factors from driver training through to general concerns among young drivers.

"As part of Goodyear’s commitment to understanding and addressing driver safety, it probed the behaviour of 6400 drivers under the age of 25. The survey covered 16 markets (15 European countries and, for the first time, South Africa) and was designed to get inside each young driver's brain to shed light on their behaviour.

“South Africans scored highest in several misbehaviours, among them accelerating up to make it through an orange traffic light (83% vs 73% globally) and weaving from lane to lane to get ahead (48% vs 28% global average).”

Goodyear’s study showed 90% of young South Africans were fully comfortable to drive on their own after completing their training – the highest score among the surveyed countries (global 78%) yet more than a third admitted that if they were to take their driving test again they would fail (37%, global 27%).


In South Africa 82% of young drivers passed their theoretical test on the first try (global 84%) while 59% succeeded in passing their practical test on the first attempt (global 68%). At the same time, 79% believed many people in South Africa gave bribes to obtain a licence more easily. Nationally speaking, 76% said it was very expensive to get a licence.

When driving training has been insufficient, the mindset seems to be that experience helps to compensate. Only 44% of young South Africans learned to drive in heavy rain when there is a risk of aquaplaning yet 85% said they were comfortable driving in heavy rain today. Similarly, only 39% learned to drive at night – not surprising, as most lessons are given in daylight – but 90% dthey are comfortable doing so.

Emergency-manoeuvre training has been given to 58% of young drivers and 89% said they were comfortable with it.

In addition to a low level of knowledge of some of the trickier elements of driving, it seems young drivers are not well trained in some of the wider motoring skills either. Of those surveyed, South Africans are most anxious about security issues, such as breaking down in an unsafe part of town (78%, 45% global) or being hijacked (71%, 38% global). Yet only 23% of South African youngsters were taught to change a tyre during their driving training (even lower globally at 20%), 34% learnt the frequency of car check-ups, and anti-hijacking or security awareness seems only to be taught on specialist courses.

“Young people are disproportionately involved in collisions and fatalities, making it crucial to ensure that they are trained adequately by a driving school. With safety at the core of our tradition, Goodyear works with the European Driving Schools Association (EFA) in Europe, the Volkswagen Driving Academy (VWDA) in South Africa and Goodyear 4x4 Academy in the Western Cape, to provide young people with more training on driving safely and responsibly, as well as ensuring optimal knowledge and maintenance of their cars and tyres.

“Recollection of skills learned in driver training is governed by the hippocampus in the temporal lobe of the brain which is associated with learning and memory. Young drivers who have never learned or who have forgotten core driving skills arguably need a refresher course to prompt their memories and make them more confident drivers.”


Antoinette Hurter, VWDA managing member, said bad habits had been allowed to develop among South African drivers.

“You need to start with the basics. In my opinion, driver training is nowhere close to international standards and the K53 testing system is inconsistent across the country. Just because you have not had an accident does not mean you are a good driver! I am often shocked when licensed drivers have their skills evaluated by our instructors.

“Our standards are very strict and we force corporate clients to come back to renew their certificates every two years. Sadly, many big companies do not insist on screening their employees’ driving or medical levels before they get into a company vehicle.

“VWDA also addresses specific South African road situations. Our hi-jack prevention programme boosts security awareness on the road and equips people to handle such situations. We are soon to launch our first night driving course, too, which teaches emergency manoeuvres and other safe driving techniques in the dark.

"We won’t take our clients out on the road at night though – it’s too dangerous – so training will take place on our track and skid pans at Kyalami.”

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