In PART ONE of this article, we sat through some grisly road fatality stats – brought to us by none other than the Department of Transport itself.
In an effort to end the bloodshed, the Road Traffic Management Corporation is proposing a complete overhaul of South Africa's testing and driving regulations. Let's take a look.
In an effort to mitigate the wanton slaughter on our roads, the Road Traffic Management Corporation has proposed a number of changes that, while seeming like a step in the right direction, will no doubt make life hell for every law-abiding motorist.
A complete overhaul of South African testing regulations has been suggested, which will involve five big changes. Better brush off those old K53 driving handbooks and practice your parallel parking, because things are about to get unpleasant.
• Compulsory retest for driver's licences. This involves overhauling the driver's licence renewal process, which will see all motorists having to redo the driver's licence test every five years. Current regulations require motorists to pass the test once, in the beginning, and then only pass an eye test once every five years when applying for licence renewal.
• Travel restrictions on newly qualified drivers. Under the proposed RMTC regulations, newly licenced drivers will not be allowed to make any long road trips – defined as any journey exceeding 150 kilometres – for the first full year upon receiving a valid driver's licence. No idea how they're going to implement or monitor this at all.
• Newly qualified drivers must be supervised. The hits just keep on coming for fledgling motorists, this time in the form of backhand to the mouth, in the form of an accompaniment clause. Newly licenced drivers will have to be supervised – just as they were as learner drivers – by an experienced driver for the first six months after receiving the licence. Because the RMTC thinks we all have a ton of free time on our hands.
• Additional testing. Proposed changes to the testing regulations – specifically related to truck, bus and taxi drivers – are still a bit unclear. It is reported, though, that inflexible conditions will be introduced, in order to secure the safety of passengers travelling aboard the vehicle, and any poor pedestrian, vehicle, animal, sign post or sitting room wall in its way.
• Stricter heavy-truck licence conditions. Under the suggested laws, heavy-truck drivers will not be allowed to obtain a valid heavy-truck licence (Code C and E) without getting a car licence (Code B) first. As it currently stands – and this may come as a bit of a surprise – heavy-truck drivers can apply for a Code C and E licence, which, according to regulations, already include the Code B.
Corruption, for one thing.
Though these changes will no doubt be greeted with open arms by many, they do present a couple of problems. Corrupt officials, as mentioned above, will now be able to target SA motorists every five years, instead of just in the beginning when they repeatedly fail you for a bunch of ridiculous things. Our lives will become a never-ending revolving door of testing stations and anguish to the sweet sounds of our debit card being swiped away until the magnetic strip fades. Just like our hopes and dreams.
With only the rampant corruption in mind, these plans are almost certainly doomed to fail before they've even materialised. We haven't even gotten to the economic impact, the fact that they can barely handle renewals as is and the government's obvious, insatiable lust for all our money – all of it – which make for grim prospects.
It feels almost as if the law-abiding are being punished, while the lawless and unroadworthy will no doubt be going about as usual.
Howard Dembovsky of the Justice Project SA, in speaking with the Sunday Times, also touched upon the restrictions placed on novice drivers.
“The concept of novice drivers has been successfully rolled out in countries like Australia, New Zealand and the UK,” he said.
“Novice drivers are subjected to limitations in those countries with respect to the hours within which they may operate. They have to complete a log book with respect to daytime and night-time driving, and driving in different weather conditions.
“We need a probationary driving licence as an intermediate step between a learner's licence and a full driving licence.”
Dembovsky was likewise opposed to the retesting of drivers every five years, calling the proposal a recipe for disaster and a catalyst for corruption. He was, however, on board with reviewing the current K53 system.
There has been no indication at all that the government has taken the above changes into consideration, yet. It's still very early days.