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Finally! SA children could learn how to drive at school again

2017-01-19 10:48

IS THIS A GOOD IDEA? Would teaching children skills to drive at high school level help reduce road deaths in SA? Image: iStock

Cape Town - The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) is currently implementing numerous road safety school projects.

Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters says the RTMC’s drivers licence project gives unemployed youth opportunities to obtain drivers licences through training on simulators and on the roads and they also facilitate the Scholar Patrol project which offers scholar patrol training to schools.

Driving simulators

Peters made the announcement on Tuesday ( Jan. 17) at the handover of the Torch of Peace.

She said: "The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) is planning to implement the provision of driving simulators programme during the 2017/18 period in order to ensure that learner drivers are given the opportunity to develop and enhance their skills to become good and safe drivers."

Peters continued: "Part of the long term initiative to establish and enhance road safety relates to the skilling of our drivers, particularly those who will be acquiring licenses for the first time. Our intended purpose is to work with the Department of Basic Education to include the driving lessons at high school as part of the curriculum.

Do you think it's a good idea for children to learn how to drive at high school? Do you think it will help reduce fatalities/crashes on SA roads? Email us or reach us via Facebook  and Twitter.

"We also have the partnership with the Department of Basic Education to ensure the inclusion of road safety in the curriculum and the training of teachers.

According to the Department, it's in the process of finalising the Graduated Driving License framework. This essentially entails different aspects of road safety awareness which are intended to adequately skill new drivers.

"These proposed regulations, open for public comment, are in addition to the regulations that came into effect in May 2015 compelling passengers in motor vehicles to wear seatbelts and drivers to ensure that children under the age of three years are placed on car seats or child restraints whenever they are transported on public roads." 

What the experts say

Arrive Alive editor Johan Jonck says: "I am in favour of increasing road safety awareness in our schools, not only through simulators but also through theoretical knowledge that is required for the Learners exams.

"By addressing this at school level, and prior to the written and driving test to acquire a license, we might reduce those who are struggling [and not knowing why they are battling] to pass the license test.

"This could eliminate the corruption that often goes along with the "desperate measures" some young learners use to get a license.

"I believe those old VW Citi Golf car used for driver training at schools in the 1980's assisted a lot of learners, especially those not having the means / finances or parents with vehicles and skills to assist our young drivers."

Wheels24 editor Sergio Davids says: "It’s about time the DoT focuses on what I believe is one of the core issues with regards to road deaths in SA – lack of education. The high prevalence of reckless (often inexperienced) drivers on our roads is appalling. If we teach learners good driving principals from a young age we have a chance of increasing the number of well-disciplined drivers on our roads. 
“The problems I forsee, like all issues relating to laws in SA, lie in execution and enforcement. All too often the DoT announces amendments and new laws without a) actually rolling them out and b) if they are implemented they are not enforced. Another issue that will need to be addressed are the logistics (thousands of schools etc) not to mention the obvious tender-process (which company/ies will have the contract?) that this will require.”

READ: New road rules for SA - 5 laws Govt want to pass

Drivers licence re-test at card renewals

In the new regulations, Peters has proposed the practical re-testing of drivers who make an application for the renewal of driving license cards.

"The idea is not to make applicants rewrite the test", says Peters, "but it is for the applicant to practically demonstrate his driving ability on a vehicle code for which he or she is seeking to re- new the license. This is done in order to eliminate fraudsters and ensure that an applicant knows the rules of the roads and is fit to drive the class of vehicle for which they are seeking a license."

More new road rules for SA

The regulations also seek to restrict the use of bakkies, vans and trucks, for the transportation of human beings, claimed Peters. The regulation limits the number of people who may be transported at the back of a goods vehicle to five, provided they are employees travelling to work.

READ: New road rules for SA - School bakkie transport explained

The regulations are explicit that no school children may be transported at the back of a bakkie, van or truck and these vehicles may not be used as taxis unless permission has been granted in terms of the National Land and Transport Act.

The regulations also seek to reduce speed limits to 40km in respect of public roads within residential areas. A speed limit of 80km/h shall apply on public roads, other than freeways, situated outside of urban areas.

A speed limit of 120km/h shall apply on all freeways provided a limit of 100km/h is observed if the freeway passes through a residential area.

Peters says: "We continue our engagements and finalise with the Department of Justice to introduce minimum sentences for negligent and reckless driving. We are seeking to reclassify drunken driving from a Schedule 3, which is less severe to a more severe Schedule 5 offence to ensure those who negligently cause crashes on the roads do not get bail easily and spend time behind bars.

"The transportation of learners to their respective schools has always been a key challenge confronting government in South Africa. The development of this learner transport policy aims to address the challenges of accessibility and safety of learners.

"This policy recognizes the need to bring a uniform approach to the transportation of learners and the fulfilment of the constitutional mandate of the department to provide a safe and efficient transport system. National learner transport policy will further assist to achieve the objectives of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020."

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