Tips for Attending Driving School in South Africa
Once you’re done with applying for and writing your learner’s licence exam and you get your temporary licence, you’ll probably want to go for a few lessons with a renowned driving school.
Now, it is possible to also attend learner’s licence classes in preparation for writing the learner’s licence exam, in case you weren’t aware (like I wasn’t). I didn’t attend lessons for the learner’s licence, only for the driver’s licence. In any case, it’s not really crucial to take lessons in order to prepare for the learner’s licence, and you’ll save money at that. All you have to do is read my hubs on applying for your learner’s licence and writing the actual learner’s licence exam.
You’ll also want to check out trafficsigns.co.za if you live in South Africa. On there, they have a whole collection of signs and rules that you need to know for the test, and they have thorough tests that will prepare you adequately for the day.
Now for my experience with driving schools.
I started looking up all the driving schools in my city, particularly in and around the area where I live, and I copied all their details down, like phone numbers, locations and names of the schools and the people involved. You can use phone books but I used the internet, and discovered sites dedicated to driving schools and links to their sites as well as contact information. It’s much more direct and it’s faster than paging through the yellow pages for instance. I phoned up the school and I had to give my details and once I’d done that I signed up for my first driving lesson.
On the day, I nervously anticipated the arrival of the car with the ridiculous looking sign strapped on top (it’s the size of a billboard and you could sell advertising space on it). When it arrived I climbed inside and began with the introductions and I had to answer more questions about my details. I also had to hand the instructor my learner’s licence.
After that, it was time to hit the road as she observed my driving habits on the way to the near empty parking lot that they use for practicing parking manoeuvres.
When we got there, we got out and set up all the poles and stands and I regretted wearing all black clothing like I usually do because it was swelteringly hot. That’s the one thing you don’t realize about cars for the most part; it’s usually much hotter inside there than you feel outside.
I practiced a set of alley docking manoeuvres and got them all right. She guessed correctly when she said that I had obviously had a little experience with driving before, since I had driven with my dad on several occasions, even without any sort of licence!
It is legal to drive without a licence on private property and you’re not on any public roads, as far as I know. So, if you live on a farm or you have a really big garden, you can drive around in it and not have to worry.
After the lesson at the parking lot was over, there were yet more questions, centred more on making my next appointment when I would go for my next lesson. She also told me about some of my bad habits which I told her that I had learned from my dad and she agreed.
I drove back home and paid her the money I owed her for the lesson and that was it.
"It is legal to drive without a licence on private property as you’re not on any public roads. So, if you live on a farm or you have a really big garden, you can drive around in it and not have to worry."
So to summarize, this is a list of things you should consider when having anything to do with a driving school:
• Get all the details of all the driving schools in your area, preferably near where you live, but even better, nearer the traffic department or DLTC (Driver’s Licence Testing Centre) where you’ll be taking your driving test.
• Make sure you find out how much each lesson costs.
• Get familiar with the car they’ll be using. I got a brochure on the Hyundai Getz for the occasion, and it turned out that it was very different to drive, although you’ll only really know once you get in and drive it.
• Perhaps consider doing a few lessons with someone who has a driver’s licence. It’ll be better for you if you’re not a complete beginner when you go for lessons.
• You should try to practice as often as you can when you’re not going for lessons with the school. Make sure it’s with someone who has a driver’s licence.
• Make sure that when they set up the poles to simulate the parking manoeuvres that they are using the exact measurements that you’ll be using on the day of your test at the traffic department or DLTC.
• It might also be a good idea to get the measurements of the bays from the driving course at the traffic department where you’ll be doing your test.
• Make sure to ask a lot of questions about driving, the driver’s test, and rules of the road, as the instructors at the driving schools are quite knowledgeable. The ones I spoke to have to do a learner’s licence and a driver’s licence exam each year! If they fail, then they are not qualified to do their jobs.
• Make sure that when you make an appointment that it doesn’t clash with any of your commitments, and on the other side of the coin, make sure it doesn’t clash with anyone else’s lesson or driving test appointment. Several of my appointments had to be moved back because of appointments made by others.
• Take note of any constructive criticism or pointers that they give you, because it might mean the difference between passing and failing on the day of your driver’s licence exam.
All in all, I would definitely recommend that you attend a driving school, especially for preparing for the driver’s licence test, as you will learn a lot. People that don’t go, or don’t go for that many lessons usually don’t pass. Think of driving school instructors as guides.
Many people assume that they are just in it to make money, but I’ve seen the dedication they go through to help others and I just think that people are misinformed when they think that. In fact, most times it was others that made life difficult for them, like the time a driving school opened up a course that was set up exactly like the driving course at the traffic department. It was such a great idea and I only got to drive on it once before someone else complained.
You don’t realize how difficult it can be to get a driver’s licence, especially in South Africa. Many people are cheated out of their licences by inexperienced or crooked traffic officials, overly-strict marking and by not preparing properly. I’ve heard of people failing their tests up to eight times, and I’ve heard cries that the system is not working. Many people resort to driving without licences, or they obtain fake licences.
Once you’ve got yours though, it’s for the rest of your life.
"A real patriot is the fellow who gets a parking ticket and rejoices that the system works."— Bill Vaughan
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© 2008 Anti-Valentine
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