Home>News Center>China

Learner drivers lose easy 'licences to kill'
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-17 08:06

New drivers dubbed "road killers" spilling onto Beijing's streets in droves have prompted the traffic management authorities to lift the difficulty level of driving tests.

From this year, driving tests have become much more difficult so that novice drivers stop being a menace to other road users, the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau says.

A woman learner driver practices parking skills at a training school in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province in this July 13, 2004 file photo. Following the enactment of the new traffic law, driving tests have become much more difficult so that novice drivers stop being a menace to other road users. [newsphoto]
Now that the test has been adopted citywide, the average pass rate has dropped to 50 per cent from the previous 80 per cent in the city's 22 test centres, said Jiang Jing, a press officer with the bureau.

The driving test now includes six compulsory items chosen randomly from nine, such as hill starts, driving on bends, making 45-degree turns and parking. In the past, only three items were required.

Existing requirements have also been made more challenging.

Now when passing obstacles, drivers must now get round six manhole covers rather than three.

"The driving test is the first checkpoint of qualified drivers, and it is also the first defence line against road accidents," said Jiang.

Statistics from the bureau show that novice drivers with less than three years' experience were responsible for nearly 30 per cent of the road accidents in the city last year. They were also responsible for an almost equal proportion of fatal accidents.

Every month in Beijing, about 20,000 rookie drivers appeared on the roads, the majority of whom are an anathema to experienced drivers and the public at large.

"These novices drive too slowly, are unfamiliar with road conditions and lack the rapid reflexes necessary to deal with the unexpected. They don't even really know how their cars work," said veteran cab driver Liu Zhi.

"The old exam for getting a driver's licence was too easy. As a result, driving schools handed out licences to kill, not to drive.

"The test should be designed in a way that only well-trained drivers can pass. Only those who have practised hard should get a licence. This is the only way to bring down the number of road accidents caused by new drivers," said Liu.

Beijingers are required to spend at least 58 hours of training to get a licence, but learner drivers are not allowed to learn on the roads themselves.

Instead, they are restricted to driving schools - large plots with tracks that simulate city and rural driving. The tracks there have traffic lights and railway crossings, and students use fleets of cars and trucks for practice.

Liu Qin, an official with the traffic management bureau, said the simulated road conditions at driving schools are far simpler and safer than those in real life.

"Learner drivers usually do not have enough driving experience at driving schools before they get on the real road. I heard some new drivers complain that the driver's seat was still as foreign and as scary to them as a plane pilot's seat, even after they have finished the mandatory 58-hour course," said Liu.

"The new driving test can help improve their skills.

"For instance, there is a new item that requires a driver to start the car from the middle of a slope, get to the top, and then slow down to the bottom on the other side within 100 metres. Only people who are quite experienced in dealing with the clutch and the accelerator can manage it."

Jiang Jing said the new driving test is planned to follow the promulgation of the new Road Traffic Safety Law, which went into force in May last year. This is another preparatory measure towards smoothing the way for the massive influx of traffic in 2008, when Beijing hosts the Olympic Games.

  Today's Top News     Top China News

Cross-Straits jets ready for take-off



Zhao Ziyang, 85, passes away in Beijing



'Go-west' speeds up in next five years



80 officials entangled in bank loan swindle



Japan maps plan to defend southern islands



Party issues outline to fight corruption


  Coal mine accidents kill 6,027 in China
  Zhao Ziyang, 85, passes away in Beijing
  Unpredictable year ahead for stock market
  Party issues outline to fight corruption
  Learner drivers lose easy 'licences to kill'
  Cabinet to discuss ocean early warning plan
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  News Talk  
  It is time to prepare for Beijing - 2008