Accra, April 28, GNA- Dr. Richard Anane, Minister of Roads and Transport on Wednesday noted that government's pledge to reduce road accident rate to a single digit by 2010 would depend very much on the kind of driver training that driving schools provided. He said that 70 per cent of road traffic accidents were due to driver attitude and behaviour, and it required a more stringent requirement for the licensing of drivers.
Dr Anane said this at the launch of syllabi for learner drivers and driving instructors in Accra.
The syllabi are to provide the framework for equity and uniformity in the teaching and learning of driving skills.
Dr. Anane noted that driving schools had evolved over the years from being minor partners in the training of drivers to being major and significant stakeholders in the country's effort to ensure safe and responsible driving on roads.
However, the phenomenal increase in the number of the institutions in recent years has given some cause for concern, engendered by the non-commensurate translation into higher quality of service and competence of drivers on the roads.
From the 15 registered driving schools in the early 1990's, there are now over 80 of them registered with the DVLA.
He said that records from the DVLA indicated that the failure rate for tested applicants including those from the driving schools in the mid 1990's was about eight per cent, but the failure rate rose to 15 percent from the late 1990 up to 2001.
The current failure rate for tested applicants is about 13 percent. Dr. Anane said that without the necessary guidance and regulation, the contents of the course run by driving schools did not conform to the basic rules and regulations regarding driving and that even with the introduction of written examinations for applicants, the inadequacies of the content for instructions at these institutions have become very glaring.
He said that the vehicles used for driver training and some places that served as classrooms for driving schools did not meet the standards, adding that the environment and facilities provided at the institutions did not qualify them to any serious learning and teaching. Dr. Anane noted that the phenomenal increase in the number of driving schools coincided with the enactment of the DVLA Act 569 of 1999 that charged the Authority to among other things, provide syllabi for driver training and training instructors.
He noted that absence of syllabi for learner drivers and driving instructors in the past permitted a situation where driving school operators turned out drivers who could merely move vehicles and some lacked the understanding of operating mechanism of the vehicle, the road signs and had no concern for other road users.
The Minister said the introduction of the syllabi should enhance the uniformity of content of driving instructions and that all drivers would acquire essential basic skills.
Mr. Joe Osei-Owusu, the Chief Executive of DVLA noted that driving as a profession had enjoyed very little attention in the country, in terms of planning for its training needs. He said it appeared that Ghanaians were prepared to admit anybody who offered to join the profession, and consequently making driving the only profession that had neither entry requirements beyond age or structured apprenticeship programme.
This, he said, has contributed significantly to the alarming increase in the number of road accidents and attendant fatalities over the years. As part of the launch, 14 driving schools that have met the standard requirement were presented with certificates.