Tue, Aug 25, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Road test for new drivers in the works

S-SHAPED Drivers of heavy vehicles and those carrying hazardous materials could also be required to take refresher courses on a regular basis

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Directorate-General of Highways (DGH) said yesterday its motor vehicles office in Taipei City is still evaluating the possibility of holding driver’s license tests on the road rather than at designated locations.

“The proposal has been discussed for many years,” said Shih Jin-liang (施金樑), director of the directorate’s motor vehicles division. “But we are having a problem locating appropriate sections of road to conduct the tests.”

The Taipei City Government has proposed several changes to the driving test. Aside from a road test, the city government also specifically suggested that the directorate cancel the forward and backward test on an S-shaped curve, arguing it is more a stunt than a means to evaluate a driver’s skills.

“The purpose of the S-shaped curve driving test is not to teach how to swerve on highways. Rather, it is to test if the driver has perfect control of his car,” Shih said. “Taiwan has many meandering roads and the skill is not altogether useless.”

In related news, the directorate said it was amending regulations that would require drivers of large vehicles to take mandatory, self-sponsored educational training every three years.

Shih said the amendment was not proposed to punish drivers of large vehicles.

“It [the amendment] is meant to give them the opportunity to learn about new traffic rules and gain knowledge so they can adapt to the changing driving environment,” Shih said.

The amendment stipulates that drivers holding licenses to operate large vehicles — including trailers, trucks and buses — would have to undergo six hours of mandatory training every three years, DGH Deputy Director Joe Wang (王在莒) said.

They would also have to cover the costs for the training, Wang said.

The directorate started using similar criteria in 2007 to ask newly registered tour bus drivers to receive six hours of training in driving ethics, traffic regulations, accident prevention and crisis management. Drivers transporting hazardous items are required to take a 16-hour training session every two years.

Aside from mandatory training, the directorate said it would reinforce inspections of large vehicles on freeway toll-collection stations, provincial highways and at tourist attractions, because it has been proven to be an effective way to curb accidents caused by large vehicles.

Statistics show that the directorate randomly inspected 168,533 large vehicles last year and issued 3,056 citations. Through the intensive inspections, the number of deaths on the roads has also dropped from 70 in 2006 to 56 in 2007. The number dropped further to 30 last year.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top