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The trouble with a learner’s licence is...


LAST week it would appear that I struck a chord with quite a number of people when I approached the topic of learners’ licences and the apparent lack of consistency in the computerised testing of our learner drivers locally.

I’ve been doing some digging and I came across a couple of things that I found interesting. Firstly, to reiterate the point that I raised last week, there has been a consistent stream of complaints with regards to the computerised learner’s licence test. Many have reported that the questions placed in front of them were not in the study material that they used to prepare. I have now learnt that some of the questions asked in the test are not in line with the National Traffic Act.

I received an interesting piece of information from a man named Gavin Hoole, who is heavily involved with all things K53. He has approached the DA in the Western Cape to try and get some resolution to the on going problem. “The officials at the National Department of Transport have apparently not shown any willingness to change their modus operandi and bring the learner’s licence tests in line with the syllabus as spelled out in the National Road Traffic Act,” said Hoole.

Mr Hoole is quite right in his questioning and has two simple queries, which I believe we deserve answers to. These include the question of when the testing situation will begin to fall in line with the legislation and what options do the people who have already failed the test as a result of incorrect questioning have, in terms of rectifying the problem?

I then read the South African Learner Driver Manual with comments not criticizing the manual itself but rather pointing out where the testing process questioning has, in some instances, deviated from the manual.

I’ll spare you the boring sections of legislation but basically, the point being made is that the questions in the test are incorrect in some cases. The point that the manual contains a large volume of information that may flood the learner’s mind with unnecessary information is also valid.

Then there’s the idea that all the details surrounding the legislation should not be necessary at the learner’s licence stage, which I feel is also important. Why should someone - who is at a point where they are merely learning to drive – be required to know the nuances of road legislation? Let them get the basic rules of the road into their system before taking to the road and learning. Then, as more experienced drivers, they can be expected to have learnt the more complicated legislation.

Some of the questions that have caused people to fail the test are quite bizarre; I’ve read people’s comments saying that they were asked about motorcycle exhaust silencers, retro-reflectors, engine covers, number plate lights and the correct number of spot lights. As far as I am aware, these questions are way beyond the basic controls of a motor cycle/vehicle and have nothing to do with traffic laws or signs, so why are they included in a basic test?

The problem is, the reports are coming from the future computerised version of the test as it saves time and money. I wrote the old school pen and paper version, late in 2012, to get a motorcycle licence and had no issues, apart from the usual understaffed traffic department and the late examiners. The whole process, especially the test itself, went ahead without any problems albeit very slowly.

I do feel that if the problematic questions were changed, we could move on with the computerised testing method; it’s been proven successful in European countries and will certainly allow the traffic department to shift more personnel to the booking stations. For example: More than one person doing the eye test, rather than using them in the testing process.

Another problem at this stage is that driving schools, the media and the public at large have to rely on those who are writing the test, for feedback on the tests. I’m going to apply for a different licence code and check out the electronic learners test for myself but, until then, I am basing my points on the responses from those who have written the test.

My biggest concern is that people resort to illegal measures and are ‘buying’ their licences. It will only perpetuate the problem of corruption and bribery within our transport industry.

If you have any experience with the new computerised learner’s licence, or simply want to voice your opinion please share with us.

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Article written by Sean Nurse
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