At the end of 2018, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) indicated that it was looking at a complete overhaul of South Africa’s current testing and driving rules.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane said that the planned changes were still in the discussion phase, and completed proposals would be submitted to transport minister Blade Nzimande and parliament for approval.
Some of these new changes include:
- A complete overhaul of the K53 driving test;
- Motorists will need to undertake a retest every five years when they renew their driver’s licences;
- Newly qualified drivers may not make long road trips in their first year (more than 150km or more);
- Newly qualified drivers must still be accompanied by an experienced driver for their first six months;
- Additional testing for truck, bus and taxi drivers;
- Motorists will not be allowed to obtain a heavy-truck licence if they do not already have a car licence.
Commenting on the proposed changes, managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert said that the changes were commendable given the high number of deaths on South African roads over the course of December.
However, some proposals were not realistic, he said.
“The tendency of the death toll to continually increase and seldom show noteworthy decreases necessitates decisive action to change this.
“I am, however, concerned that the suggested changes may not as easily implementable as most people are given to understand.”
Herbert said that there are a number of challenges that would need to be introduced before to implementing the suggested changes.
He noted that the plan to make every driver re-do their driving license every five years does not seem possible from an administrative perspective.
“It may work better to only require certain drivers to re-do their licenses, such as those in a certain age bracket,” he said.
Other suggestions that could be potentially problematic include the reassessment of the K53 theory.
“In addition to reassessing the theory, moves should also be made to ensure that all drivers have the practical skills to be competent drivers. Additionally, will requiring newly qualified motorists to drive with experienced drivers for six months be long enough?
“Stats from the UK suggest it is not. Road experts in the UK say it takes driving a distance of 100,000 miles (160,000km) to become an experienced driver.
“If a new driver, however, drove with experienced drivers for six months and concurrently underwent training that extends beyond K53 training, it could speed this process up and increase effectiveness,” said Herbert.
Despite these concerns, Herbert said that the RTMC was on the right track in curbing the high road-fatality rate.
“Decisive action needs to be taken to improve the state of South African roads,” he said.
“The RTMC has made a move in this direction and with a few adjustments to the original suggestions, improved results may be possible.”