Getting a Driver’s Licence in South Africa
This is the second in a series of driving articles all written according to my personal experiences and includes some advice.
I assume that you have your learner's licence and you need to know what to expect when applying for a driver's licence test. If you haven't got a learner's licence, then I suggest you read that article first.
Once you've written your learner's licence exam and hopefully passed (much to the chagrin of the traffic cops, who like to keep people coming back to make more money from appointments), you'll want to make an appointment for a driver's exam.
But before you rush off and do that, a few words of warning. In South Africa at least, it isn't compulsory to go through a driving school before going for a DLT (driver's licence test). It hasn't been legislated apparently. You would, however be well-advised to take several lessons as there is a lot that you will learn from the instructors that your parents didn't teach you. If my dad had to take the DLT tomorrow, he would absolutely fail, no doubt. He doesn't stop at stop streets; he balances the brake and accelerator instead of using the handbrake, and he commits many other infractions that would lead to an instant fail nowadays with the stricter rules of the road.
Go and make an appointment so long though, seeing as the waiting period could be very long (when I made mine it was four months).
• You'll need your ID again with some photos.
• You need your learner's licence.
• You need some money, make sure you take more than enough just in case.
• You need to take another eye test and pass.
• You also need to fill out a form that will be given to you, asking for your particulars.
After I'd made my appointment, I took several driving lessons with a renowned school, and too true, I learned a lot that my dad hadn't taught me. They not only show you parking maneuvers, but they take you on the same routes that you'll possibly take on the day, when it comes to your road test.
"In South Africa alone, half the motorists on the road do not have valid licenses, and most people fail their learner's licence, let alone the driver's."
In South Africa alone, half the motorists on the road do not have valid licenses, and most people fail their learner's licence, let alone the driver's. The only problem here is, you can drive at your own risk without a licence, but if you were to be asked for your licence, or if you got into a car accident, it leads to some massive problems. Insurance won't pay out if you don't have a valid licence. You can be fined or jailed if caught, especially if yours is a fake licence.
It's also important to become familiar with the yard at the traffic department or DLTC (driver's licence testing centre; sometimes they are two separate places). Makes sure you walk the course a couple of times and get familiar with it so that it's nothing new on the day of the test. Unfortunately where I live, you can't drive on the yard before the test like in the old days.
Not only should you take some driving lessons with a school, but make sure to go driving as often as possible. Do some parking in an empty parking lot, and go driving out on the back roads to get some confidence before going into the built up areas where there is a lot more chance of an accident. You can crash on the back roads or freeways because of the high speeds, but in town there are many more cars, and they're close by.
When I drove in town for the first time, I was appalled at how dangerous it was, because of the aggressive driving habits of the people on the road. They have no consideration for rules or the fact that you are a law-abiding learner. This will make it harder for you, and pray that you get a good time on your test day, for you won't want to drive in heavy traffic as this can be distracting as you dodge, weave and generally try to avoid being smacked by the number of stupid people on the road. Mid to late morning is probably the best time. You avoid the morning rush hour to work and school, and the afternoon rush hour to pick up kids from school, and the evening rush hour where you have people coming home from work.
For all of them, driving is different. They drive with haste, they ignore speed limits, break rules and they treat learners with disgust as they roam the streets, cell phone in hand and makeup or beer in the other.
Anyway, don't let any of this scare you.
Once you get your drivers licence, that's it. You've done it and you won't have to go through that ever again... unless you don't renew your licence in the time specified where you live; then you'll have to go through the WHOLE process all over again.
© 2008 Anti-Valentine