Learner Driver Process Review

‘Leaner Drivers’ in Zimbabwe are allowed on the roads with a licensed driver in the car to oversee their practice. This is a great move as it gives learner drivers to experience driving on the roads while dealing with real traffic and real road situations BUT perhaps this benefit does not outweigh the risks these leaner drivers pose on the roads. After you have read this article I am interested to read your thoughts on this issue in the comments below.

Just take a walk in downtown Harare and you will notice the hundreds of leaner drivers navigating the roads with experienced drivers and pedestrians. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I like the idea of them ‘learning-on-the-job’ so to speak, I just feel that Zimbabwe needs to rethink the process that Leaner Drivers go through before they are eligible to drive on the roads. Two decades ago this article would have been irrelevant because 1) there were fewer cars on the roads and 2) there were fewer pedestrians in Harare CBD and last but not least 3) there were fewer vendors on the side-walks and certainly very few people sitting on the curbs so the risk of accidents and danger may have been lower.

I am hoping by now you are starting to come up with your own vision of why it is imperative that we rethink the process or the steps Leaner Drivers must take prior to being able to drive in heavy pedestrian populated areas in particular. If you are still not convinced then I invite you to watch this video (note that the video is not for persons of a nervous disposition):

After watching the above video you immediately realize that practicality and common sense need to drive the revision and we need to come up with processes/steps that are relevant to the Zimbabwe we currently live in and supporting the one we want to see in the future.

Many will argue on who is wrong in that video but that won’t save the hundreds of other innocent victims that will be injured in the future. Instead in my opinion, we need to ensure that the process safeguards the likely dangers as a result of the inherent human error in any driving situation and of course exacerbated when the driver is a learner driver.

Some of the changes I thought of are using a point system that then determines at what stage a driver can be allowed to drive in pedestrian and traffic congested areas for example. This, in my opinion, would mitigate the risk to other road users as a result of a mistake almost certain with drivers that have just passed their learners but have little experience behind the wheel. Another change could be to only allow learners to drive in congested areas only in the presence of a certified instructor as opposed to just any driver that may not be up-to-date on the risks of teaching or overseeing a learner driver.

Based on my limited research on this issue I noticed that schools are not required to teach the Highway Code as part of the curriculum (eyes wide open)!!! Perhaps it’s time we started making it a requirement that every student must pass a Highway Code test before they turn 16. Ignorance is perhaps the biggest danger on the roads especially when you review the incident in the video without placing blame. Several parties in the video could have done things differently but rather due to ignorance and perhaps an element of negligence, an unnecessary accident occurred.

Last but not least the biggest lesson I took from the unfortunate video above is that Zimbabwe’s relevant authorities need to ensure that they continually run road safety campaigns and engage professionals to help assess the effectiveness of such campaigns to ensure all road users are well educated on the road rules. As much as everyone is expected to know the rules, I believe it is important for the relevant institutions to effectively communicate the rules to the population.

Having said that, I believe all these progressive changes would be useless if the relevant authorities do not place stricter requirements and controls on driving instructors and driving schools.

What are your thoughts? How can Zimbabwe improve the steps that leaner drivers gain driving experience and attain their licenses?

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