Starting next year, motorcyclists will be required to take a defensive driving course in order to obtain a driver’s license, the Directorate-General of Highways (DGH) said yesterday.
The requirement will apply only to first-time applicants.
The 90-minute course would be divided into two parts, the directorate said. In the first part, participants would have to watch a video about the causes of different traffic accidents, while the second part would be a safe driving lecture covering eight specific items.
Prior to making the course mandatory, the directorate held a trial run nationwide between April and last month. A total of 54,385 people took the pilot course and about 83 percent said they thought the course provided more information on road safety.
The directorate also conducted a telephone survey about the course between Sept. 5 and Sept. 10. Of the 1,101 valid samples, 75.3 percent of respondents said they favored the idea of making the defensive driving course mandatory.
The directorate analyzed the accident rates from April to June between motorcyclists who had taken the course and those who had not. The accident rate for those who took the course was 0.79 percent and 1.08 percent for those who had not taken the course.
By making the course mandatory, the directorate hopes to reduce the accident rate among motorcyclists by 3 percent to 5 percent per year.
However, making the course mandatory has drawn mixed reviews from transportation experts.
Chang Sheng-hsiung (張勝雄), an associate professor in Tamkang University’s transportation management department, said that the course is too short.
Motorcyclists in other countries are required to take more than 20 hours of defensive driving, he said, adding that the course should last at least two to three hours.
Chang’s departmental colleague, Luo Shiaw-shyan (羅孝賢), said that defensive driving courses should be regularly offered at all levels of schools.
Kevin Hwang (黃國平), an associate professor of National Cheng Kung University’s transportation and communication management department, said that the traffic accidents in metropolitan areas often occur in the intersections, whereas motorcyclists in other areas are often stopped for speeding or driving without licenses. Defensive driving courses offered in these areas should be different, he said.
Tseng Pin-yi (曾平毅), a professor in the Central Police University’s traffic science department, said that motorcyclists in Taiwan often need to sacrifice lives to learn the importance of safe driving.
He suggested offering defensive driving courses in school, and giving students who complete the course a certificate.
“Parents should know that it is more practical that their children take defensive driving course before hitting road than praying to gods at the temples to guard their safety,” Tseng said.