Pass today, teach tomorrow

2012-09-10 00:00

LEGISLATION is in the pipeline to ensure that not just anyone can operate a driving school.

At present, nothing prevents a person from passing the driving test one day and setting up a school to teach others the next.

“It means any Tom, Dick or Harry can teach your kids to drive — without any real driving skill and possibly without insurance,” said Alida Jones, founder of the non-profit organisation, Drive More Safely.

Jones said her organisation had been campaigning since 2008 for regulations governing driving schools.

“Fortunately there is now a bill that stipulates who may start a driving school,” she said

In terms of amendments to the Road Traffic Act published in the Government Gazette on July 18, a person applying to run a driving school must have two years’ experience as an instructor.

Applications must be made to provincial transport MECS and can be refused if the applicant does not comply with certain conditions.

If the application is refused, the person cannot simply go and start up in another province.

Jones welcomed the amendment, but said she was worried that it still did not prescribe a qualification for a driving instructor.

At present, an instructor must simply have a driving licence and annually take the learner drivers’ test.

“It’s not a proper qualification, but it allows someone to teach another to drive for a fee,” said Jones.

A driving school can easily bring in R40 000 a month, she said.

Ashref Ismail, spokesperson for the Road Traffic Managment Corporation, said it was crazy that such a loophole in the law allowed anyone to start a driving school.

“Poor driver training is one of the five main causes of the high accident figure on our roads,” he said.

While many solutions were needed to reduce road deaths, regulation of driving schools and instructors was a step in the right direction, Ismail said.

The deadline for comment on the amendment has passed.

Is your driving school registered?

ALIDA Jones of Drive More Safely gives the following advice when looking for a registered driving school.

•Ask the instructor for his or her certificate. Certificates have to be renewed annually;

•Ask the school for references and phone former pupils for their opinions;

•Get a receipt for every payment you make;

•Ask the driving school if it has insurance that covers the learner driver in an accident;

•Ask the school if it is a registered business that pays tax;

“If a school says it can guarantee that you will get your licence, there’s something fishy,” said Jones. “A driving school can only train you to the best of your ability and prepare you for the test.”

She said was a useful website for finding instructors who have valid certificates. It allows only those whose certificates are up to date to advertise.

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