Code 10 licence menace

2008-02-23 00:00

THOUSANDS of hopeful drivers who opt for the “easier driving test”, the Code 10 (truck) licence, could become ticking time bombs on KwaZulu-Natal roads.

Every day, hundreds of people queue at testing stations to take the Code 10 test instead of the Code 8, which many believe is more difficult because of its stringent parking requirements.

A Code 10 test only requires the learner to carry out an alley docking and to reverse, while in the Code 8 test, the learner has to parallel park, alley dock and do a three-point turn.

While there are plans to implement a grading system in which a person would have to possess a Code 8 licence first if they wanted to apply for a Code 10 licence, desperate people continue to inquire about the Code 10 test.

Many have no intention of ever driving a truck, but take the test because it is the only sure way of obtaining a licence.

Road authorities have warned that these drivers contribute to the high number of fatalities on the province’s roads and say the Road Traffic Inspectorate needs to adjust its regulations, which allow a Code 10 licence holder to drive a Code 8 vehicle without taking the required test.

Learners just have to fill out an application form and have eye tests done.

If the paperwork is in order and the eye tests have been done, the Road Traffic Inspectorate cannot prevent anyone from applying for a Code 10 licence.

Head of the Road Traffic Inspectorate, John Schnell, said there was no direct correlation between accidents and the size and class of the vehicle.

“We can’t confirm that these drivers are responsible for these accidents. Very few people are killed by a reversing vehicle,” he said.

Schnell confirmed the number of Code 10 applications outnumbered the Code 8 applications at testing stations around KZN.

Automobile Association (AA) spokesman Gary Ronald said the Code 10 and Code 8 tests are very similar in that the same controls are used in the vehicles.

“The only difference in the tests is the parking, which is not required for the Code 10 licence. Another aspect is the cost, Code 10 tuition costs more,” he said.

Ronald said driving schools claim that it costs more to teach someone to drive a truck than to drive a car.

“These driving schools have identified a gap in the system and are using it to charge people exorbitant amounts of money. This issue needs to be addressed by the authorities,” said Ronald.

However, Schnell said that it is difficult to clamp down on unscrupulous driving schools who charged exorbitant amounts for the Code 10 tuition.

“Driving schools are a private enterprise. We can’t really clamp down on them,” he said

According to Ronald, corruption at testing stations around the country is as rife as ever as more and more people are tempted to buy their licences.

Delays in booking dates are another reason why people choose to take the Code 10 rather than the Code 8 test. It can take as long as four months to secure a date for a Code 8 test, while it takes two months for the Code 10 test.

Harry Bahadur, owner of Harry’s Driving School, said that while the majority of his customers apply for the Code 10 licence, only a small number will drive a truck after they get a licence.

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