SA taxi drivers compete to be safest

2012-04-30 22:19

Germiston - Mangled wreckage from deadly head-on collisions is usually what lands South Africa's notoriously aggressive minibus taxis in the headlines, an image some drivers are working to change.

In a country with nearly 14 000 road deaths a year - one of the highest rates in the world - minibus taxis are often blamed for the carnage.

In February, Jacob Humphreys was sentenced to 20 years behind bars, for killing 10 children in a minibus-train crash after he ignored a lowered safety boom at a railroad crossing.

But one competition is attracting thousands of drivers hoping to improve the taxis' reputation and avoid such deadly accidents: a contest for the title of South Africa's safest driver.

"We are learning how to take care of our passengers. We are learning also how to save ourselves," said driver Molupe Leboto, 29, at a session in Germiston, Gauteng.

Number 1 Taxi Driver Campaign

Behind him a fellow driver in a bright orange t-shirt does manoeuvres between traffic cones while others wait in the shade.

They take turns reversing and parking on an obstacle course while an instructor evaluates their skills. Then they take to the streets for a road test.

More than 5 000 drivers are competing in the Number 1 Taxi Driver Campaign, hoping to win one of four spanking new minibuses of their own in a contest meant to teach advanced driving, business skills and just simple manners.

"They're always rushing. Their bosses want money so they're working under very strict conditions and it pushes them to go over yellow lanes, to drive a little bit reckless and a little bit faster," driving instructor Sthembiso Segolela said.

Operators are frank about their shortcomings.

"They bend the rules sometimes, but the thing is if you do that once, or you do that twice - many times it will cause an accident," said taxi driver Churchill.

Road rage

The R30bn industry, which ferries around 25 million people a day, suffers from an image that its drivers are all reckless, speeding and blaring horns through the streets.

They've also come under fire for abusing women wearing mini-skirts, and even knocking over pedestrians in road rage incidents.

"Road rage affects innocent drivers on the road. So that's what we're trying to discourage, so they could try to get a little bit of emotional intelligence so they know how to control their emotion," Segolela said.

On top of that pressures from competitors and passengers stress out conductors, who are paid by commission rather than by the hour, creating an incentive to carry as many people as quickly as possible.

"They used to get angry very fast. As they're customers, it is patience I need to have most," said driver Musa Mndebele, 35.


In an industry with many illegal operators, the campaign encourages regulation by requiring contestants to have a driver's licence and public transport permit.

Authorities support the campaign, which is sponsored by Brandhouse, a drinks distributor for labels like Johnnie Walker.

Both South Africa's taxi associations encourage their members to take part.

"They protect the very commuter, because that is where our bread comes from," said Francis Masitsa, chairperson of the National Taxi Association, whose members account for 40% of minibus operators.

But more is needed than 30 minutes with an instructor to turn the tide.

A taxi academy was launched last year by the South African Taxi Council, the other major industry association, but it has yet to get off the ground.

Meanwhile road safety officials have set up roadblocks on provincial borders around the country and courts have meted out severe punishment for taxi drivers responsible for road deaths.

  • Cameron - 2012-04-30 23:34

    Ill believe it when i see it!

      Warren - 2012-05-01 02:15

      Doubt if one competition will have even the slightest impact on taxis much deserved reputation. They shouldn't be competing for the "safest" title but rather for the "least homocidal" title.

      Luvo - 2012-05-01 08:44

      I for one don't believe that anything good will ever come of the taxi industry despite any promise to do so. The industry is characterised by the people with a complete disrespect for the law, other road users and themselves. As South Africans we have learnt to live side by side with taxi drivers just the same as we tolerate cockroaches and other pests in our homes.

      Ian - 2012-05-01 10:11

      Can you imagine the 'safety tips'? "okay, you must keep both hands on the vice grip at all times"..........

      Brandon - 2012-05-01 13:50

      Well I hope they can fix this perception.

      Jan - 2012-05-01 15:04

      Taxi drivers can drive perfectly well when the mood strikes them (well, some can). I defy the taxi council to make a month long tracking by GPS, checking for bad driving by accelerometer, a noise level meter an in-taxi camera the biggest part of the evaluation criteria.

  • Trevor - 2012-05-01 00:00

    They wouldn't be safe on a tandem.

  • ptmakgato - 2012-05-01 01:38

    This is great knews, I so hope all taxi drivers take part in this because I am so tired of old behaving like school boys, I mean it doesn't make sence to get a driver who confuses short right and short left..this is just one of the issues I've encounterd

      Yar - 2012-05-01 09:33

      @ptmakgato Sorry sweetie, I think you are being naive. Taxi drivers will never change their behaviour, unless they are held accountable for their atrocious road behaviour.

  • Bless Boswell - 2012-05-01 01:47

    This is great news. Not only skill but attitude will change things enormously. When I have taken time to be polite, generally, they are too. Occasionally you get real dorks on the road but even that is better - unless I'm just getting used to it:)

      DieOck - 2012-09-03 13:06


  • seanpresherhughes_1 - 2012-05-01 03:15

    Whatg a complete joke! You can't change a leopard's spots - "teaching them how to park", really! There are no parking bays in the middle of intersections! Are they teaching the taxi associations about the lack f road-worthiess of all their vehicvles? There are so many taxis n our roads, competition will always be rife, thijs will never stoo their rude/inconciderate ways of driving to pick up as many passenger's as possible in a fight for income from the "Bosses". What makes a taxi-driver any more special than any other commuter or driver on the roads trying to reach their destination? We all have a destination to get to!!! Before these courses commence are the legitamacy of their driver's licences verified andf that they are not forge and that they are of legal age to opperate a taxi with a public transport permit? I don't think so? I've seen many "kiddies" fly by me from time to time that can hardly see over the dashboard! Speaking of flying ' I suggest that each and every taxi should be governed at the legal speed limit of 100km's/hour, otherwise theynshould jus as well remove the white elephate stickers stuck on the rear of all taxis, because NONE of the taxis adhere to the speed limit introduced a few years ago for taxis and busses alke, that little yellow and red round sticker stuck on the rear of passenger vehicles, it seems that none of the drivers evenknows what it stands for (K53 test done atg all)?¿

      seymore.butt - 2012-05-01 06:47

      glass half empty much aye?

      seanpresherhughes_1 - 2012-05-02 01:57

      seymore - do less?

  • Carry - 2012-05-01 06:43


  • Steve - 2012-05-01 07:04

    April Fools day was last month.

  • tshembhani.mkansi - 2012-05-01 07:29

    thy should also be taught how a robot operates

  • Raymond - 2012-05-01 08:06

    Another great South African joke.The mentality of these people never ceases to amaze me.They are rude and ill disciplined,a danger to the public their passengers and to themselves.They have no respect for other road users and disobey ALL road rules.They think that they own the road but anyway,wishful thinking.YOU ARE WHAT YOU ARE.

  • Hugh - 2012-05-01 08:31

    The part that I find amazing it is as if the road trafic inspectorate and Drive alive do not wish us to know the truth. Never have I seen data on how many deaths and injuries are attributed to taxis and separately for cars

  • Emily-Jane Elson - 2012-05-01 08:32

    Wait for it... BWA HA HA HA HA HA!! I hope you teach them what the Emergency Lane is ACTUALLY for and that RED means STOP and not: slow down then creep across intersection. Fxxk that pisses me off!!

  • Rob - 2012-05-01 08:43

    Being rewarded for somewthing that you should be doing in the first place??? LOL. I haven't killed anyone... Where's my reward?

      Mike Purchase - 2012-05-01 10:08

      Nice one Rob

  • mzwandile.komeni - 2012-05-01 08:55

    Lol,Mxnm,mabaphelise i'four-four' kqala...bayeke uhamba ku'yellow-line'!

  • mzwandile.komeni - 2012-05-01 08:56

    Lol,Mxnm,mabaphelise i'four-four' kqala...bayeke uhamba ku'yellow-line'!

  • Stirer - 2012-05-01 09:08

    Taxi and safety in the same sentence - that's an oxymoron

      Simon - 2012-05-01 17:05

      Just a moron

  • Bertus - 2012-05-01 09:17

    How about the law officials just enforce the law by arresting them for reckless driving like they do with us normal drivers? They are not dogs which need treats to be obedient?

  • Mike Purchase - 2012-05-01 10:07


  • KCorsar - 2012-05-01 10:14

    Haha, today is 1 MAY, not 1 APRIL. Prison sentences with a hard labour / community service component in a morgue, let them deal with the aftermath firsthand.

  • ndyeboreginaldmazawule - 2012-05-01 11:25

    That campaign will jst be in Joburg nt all over th country. Yes its a great initiative bt a taxi driver will always bend the rules.

  • Senamela - 2012-05-01 11:29

    a pile of BS... taxi association propaganda

  • monty.sayers - 2012-05-01 12:11

    don't blame the bosses for the way the taxi drivers drive, they are a bunch of stupid ingnorant individuals who could'nt careless who's lives they endanger, so don't talk nonsense. They won't change one bit, they will take the free taxi's and use them to kill a dozen more people. Bloody idiots. That's all folks. Maybe the road officials should ensure the roadworthness of the taxi's they have on the roads already instead of allowing more to partake in the carnage.

  • Nigel - 2012-05-01 17:37

    & they want to fly planes

  • Menzi - 2012-05-01 18:41

    Well, taxi drivers, taxi drivers, taxi drivers none stop, are they any different from other popular employees. They are not differently from Police who suppose to enforce the law, no different from nurse and doctors who suppose to be saving lives. No different from the government that suppose to ensure that South Africa feel save. Fix the roots first, not the leaves. Roots have power then leaves.

  • kseyffert - 2012-05-01 19:20

    Training is all good and well but take it from me (A certified international driver trainer) that the only thing that really works is a driving monitor. All the training in the world means nothing if the driver does not have the right attitude. The only way to enforce/monitor that is a quality driving monitor. Fit one to all buses and taxi's, enforce compliance with fines (You could even use these fines to provide a performance bonus to the guys who perform well) and then, only then, will you see an improvement.

      maseratifittipaldi - 2012-05-01 19:31

      Good for marketing a product, but too narrow a view.

  • Trevor - 2012-05-01 19:35

    Yes just for the duration of the competition...that they can get the "free" money reward....then it's back to normal...KILL ON THE ROADS

  • Mike Purchase - 2012-05-01 19:41

    People check iou(its on us)on facebook,very interesting footage there.If you see someone misbehaving you can post it be it a pic or video on iou on facebook.Its a very good cause,join them to take our roads back.

  • seanpresherhughes_1 - 2012-05-02 01:54

    What a waste of time/effort and money, nothing will change a taxi-driver's old habbits! This also wont discourage un-roadworthy taxis littering our roads! The taxi bosses will continue to place pressure on their drivers to meet their quotas each day - nothing will change! Good luck with this futile drive!!!

  • ian.levinson.7 - 2012-05-07 02:47

    oh please, come try your little pathetic campaign on louis botha avenue, they make it there business to break every rule of the road, how about getting the commuters to stop using the taxi ranks as a rubbish pit and a toilet, theres a start

  • DieOck - 2012-09-03 13:04

    sdfsdfsd dsf sdf sdf dsf

  • DieOck - 2012-09-03 13:06


  • pages:
  • 1