Cape Town - Some South Africans who want driving licences are opting for heavy motor vehicle licences because the test is easier, and it allows you to drive a car as well; the result is scores of incompetent and unskilled drivers on the roads.
Cape of Good Hope SPCA chief executive Allan Perrins said it had recently employed two people with valid Code 10 driving licences - for vehicles that weigh over 3500kg - and neither could drive competently.
One worker obtained a licence in 2013, but soon after starting work was driving so badly no one was prepared to ride with her, Perrins said.
Things came to a head when the woman crashed a 1.5m wide Nissan half-ton bakkie into their 5.7m-wide gate, causing R30 000 damage. Perrins said she had agreed to be re-evaluated.
“The examiner classified her as a potentially dangerous driver and recommended that she not be allowed to drive a work vehicle.”
Perrins said he had always thought a truck (Code 10) licence was superior to having a normal sedan licence.
“But this is definitely not the case as my investigation revealed that the test for a Code 10 is far less complex than that of a sedan licence, where before going out on the road one would be expected to pull away on an incline, complete a variety of parking tests and do a three-point turn.”
But, he said, for a Code 10, a pull-away on an incline and alley docking parking was all that was required before taking the remainder of the test on the road.
Provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa agreed it was much easier to pass a Code 10 rather than a Code 8 driving test.
“It is problematic,” he admitted. “We were trying to get the National Road Traffic Act to change but at this stage there is no light at the end of the tunnel.”
Stan Bezuidenhout, who runs a forensic collision investigation and accident reconstruction service, said it wasn’t illegal to go for the easier Code 10 licence but it was a concern and potentially dangerous.
“It is time for the law to change,” he said,”because it is based on assumptions that those applying for a Code 10 licence have already got a Code 8.”
Pretoria-based driving school TopOne said on its website training and test requirements for the Code 10 driver's licence were not as intense as with the Code 08 driver's licence, making it easier to pass your driving licence.
But JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said: “While there is no requirement for parallel parking and turn in road procedures for a Code 10 licence, the penalty point system is more stringent than for a Code 8 licence.”
Proposed redesign of K53 stalled
Siphesihle Dube, spokesman for transport and public works MEC Donald Grant, said the Gene Louw Traffic College’s facilitators for Examiner for Driving Licence had played a role over a lengthy period to redesign the current legislative requirements for the K53 driving licence test.
“The objective of the proposed redesign of the K53 modules for all classes of motor vehicles was to critically evaluate current practice, and propose improvements.”
Dube said workshops had been hosted by representatives of the national department of transport and task team members comprising traffic training colleges who facilitated the Examiner for Driving Licences courses, Provincial Monitoring and Compliance Inspectors and the National Road Traffic Management Corporation representatives.
“The final draft was completed more than seven years ago, and it has not gone further than that due to various reasons cited by representatives of the national department of transport,” he said.