Officials are in discussion on whether or not to cut K53 from South Africa's driver testing system.
DURBAN - The Department of Transport has lent its support to the idea of scrapping the K53 testing system.

Sindisiwe Chikunga, the Deputy Transport Minister, said this at the launch of the UN’s Global Road Safety Week  at Acacia Primary School in Verulam on Monday.

Makhosini Msibi, the chief executive at the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), recently reported to a parliamentary portfolio committee that the K53 system needed to be reviewed because of corruption and the high number of accidents in the country.

There was concern about the quality of drivers being produced.

“More than 75% of incidents are due to driver error. They are making mistakes they should not be making,” said Simon Zwane, RTMC spokesperson.

He said the review was an international practice conducted by many countries overseas.

Yesterday, the deputy minister said her department was supporting RTMC’s decision as “we believe it will have an impact on how people get their learner’s and driver’s licences”.

“The RTMC is our state-owned company and also advises us. When it is time for you to get your licence, make sure that you don’t buy it. Many of the drivers we are talking about are not able to drive because they did not pass their learner’s licence exam,” she said.

“If you have a driver’s licence and you do not know the rules of the road, you will end up overtaking on barrier lines as you will not know what barrier lines mean.”

Chikunga said it was difficult to say when this could become a reality because they still had to formally propose and table the review in Parliament, which, she said, could take up to two years.

Howard Dembovsky, chairperson of the Justice Project South Africa, said the review was long overdue because many countries around the world had dropped the K53 system since South Africa adopted it more than 20 years ago.

Dembovsky said drivers should be tested on how to see hazards on the road and be able to anticipate them.

“These matters must be looked at holistically and not just from a narrow perspective. It is not only drivers, but pedestrians and other road users who should be educated.”

Dembovsky also urged people who had Professional Driving Permits to go through the proper training, such as drivers who carried hazardous goods.

Reacting to news of the possible review, Caro Smit, of South Africans Against Drunk Driving, said: “It is time.”

She welcomed the move and said there should be more information about drinking and driving in the reviewed system.

Smit said 60% of crashes on South African roads involved alcohol. Driving schools should also be looked at as there was a need for standardised training for them. She said it was wrong for someone to get their licence today and start a driving school the next day.

Smit said the driving instructors themselves did not follow the rules of the road - for example, they often did not fasten their seat belts when they conducted their training.

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