Category: Consumer

Driving Test Amendments South Africa

Proposed amendments to the Driving Test in South Africa

To anybody that has spent a moment behind the wheel of a vehicle in South Africa, it is alarmingly clear that there are a number of drivers on our roads who really shouldn’t be…

While that in itself is an article for another day, it is rather clear that the methods by which drivers are tested in South Africa are very out of date. The much-maligned K53 driving test is very similar to the system used in Britain in the 1980’s, so it goes without saying that our system needs an extensive revamp.

The Proposed Changes

The Road Traffic Management Corporation believes that it can make a difference to the increasing road-deaths on South African roads, with road accidents this festive season claiming over 1 600 lives, nearly 100 up from the previous festive season.

  • Upon renewing a license every 5 years, drivers will have to retake their driving test.
  • Road trips of more than 150 km will not be permitted for newly licensed drivers.
  • For the first 6 months, it will be mandatory for newly-licensed drivers to be accompanied by an experienced driver.
  • Truck, bus and taxi drivers will need to undergo additional testing.
  • In order to apply for a heavy-truck license, a driver must also possess a car license.

The Issues

On paper, much of this seems like a good idea, but the efficiency of the licensing department as it stands is, well, questionable. Factor in all of the additional tests that will need to be done once the 5-year retest is implemented and you have a recipe for disaster…

It is also a common occurrence for learner drivers, for whom it is mandatory to have a licensed driver in the car already, to drive around on their lonesome. If the police force struggles to enforce this as it is, it’s unlikely that they will be able to enforce laws such as not driving further than 150 km and having a licensed driver in the car with you for the first six months…

There’s no doubt that our road rules and regulations are in serious need of a revamp, what is finalized and how it is implemented will be tantamount to actually decreasing road deaths.

Why we all need to make peace with South African Taxis.

South African Taxi

The daily taxi war.

Before everyone comes after me with pitchforks and burning torches, I would just like to put a little disclaimer out there. In this article, I am not condoning illegal or unroadworthy vehicles – which put the lives of others in danger. This includes overloading, or driving in a manner that can cause harm to others.

So here goes…

It is a daily part of the average South African’s life, especially those who commute via a motor vehicle. It is a battle which we all inevitably lose and one which we probably all need to let go of, I am talking about the fight against the South African taxi driver. Whether it’s big or small, seats 6 people or 15, the issue is less with the car but rather the driver. A taxi driver is a taxi driver. More often than not, this person plays by his rules and the rules of his fraternity. Whatever those rules are however, the role of a taxi in South Africa is crucial.

This form of transport plays a massive role in our economy, transporting many people to and from work on a daily basis. South Africa needs them as much as they may annoy us, and I’m sure that many reading this article experience this annoyance on a daily basis.

These annoyances can range from taxi drivers cutting in front of your vehicle, or stopping in the lane to make pick ups or drop offs – causing havoc for the vehicles behind. Using the emergency lane, to the classic “turning off the road, cutting across opposite traffic and turning back onto the road” at an intersection, to gain a jump on those stuck at a red light. We have all been in a similar situation and it drives us crazy, often resulting in shouting, cursing or worse.

South African Taxi

The solution?

There is one solution, and while it won’t completely alleviate the problem, it will help to reduce our own personal road rage and stress levels.The solution is to make peace with South African taxis. Does that mean no shouting, arguing, hand gesturing or even fighting every time a taxi does something even remotely annoying? Yes. Why you may ask? Well it is relatively simple.

You see, no matter how big your tantrum is, how many expletives you utter, or how many times you roll down your window and use a range of hand gestures, you are only ruining one person’s day, yours.

Do you really think a taxi driver cares about your abuse? They don’t, they couldn’t give a hoot (pun intended). They get told off by everyone on a daily basis and the fact is, no matter how many road users give them abuse, they are never going to change. At the end of the day, they also have families to feed and need run hectically tight schedules to try and make money. Ask yourself this question, how crazy would you drive to feed your children? Of course, putting anyone’s life in danger is never justifiable, but we will never understand what goes on in the life of a taxi driver, unless we’ve lived that life. Your anger, fists or bullets isn’t worth you risking your life in an altercation. Is it?

So as much as it sucks to take it on the chin, ignore it and let it happen. Half the time the offence committed against us is not worth the outburst. Is that taxi trying to cut in front while you are late for work? Don’t fight it. Driving down the emergency lane and you feel like swerving to stop him? Don’t bother. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your daily commute because in the long run, one or a thousand motorists hurling abuse and getting stressed is never going to change a thing. Pray that when the offence is being committed, the police do what they’re paid to do. After living and driving in South Africa for 4 years from the U.K, I’ve gone through the various stages of grief, battling this daily war with taxis and I respect every motorist enduring the same fight. Quite recently I have tried this care-free approach as I face Durban’s Umgeni road on a daily basis. The result? I look five years younger already.

Spring is coming! There’s a convertible for everybody.

A convertible for everybody.

Ah! Us South African’s love a good drop-top, don’t we? I mean , what’s better than cruising in the summer heat, feeling sticky whilst the leather seats give us 3rd degree burns? The reality is convertibles should be marketed as winter cars locally, because thankfully we have sunshine and a cool breeze to accompany us. This is assuming you live in Johannesburg, if you’re from Cape Town…eish askies. So, for those looking to get into summer looking fabulous, here are some cars that you might like. We’ve catered for ranging budgets here, so here goes:

Toyota Aygo X-Cite: R 189 500

Coming in at under R200K, this is a car aimed at the young, wild and free. Wild may be an overstatement since it only has a 1.0 litre engine and I don’t know if you can technically call it a convertible, but it will still allow you to feel the wind in your hair. Overall the Aygo X-Cite is an accomplished little car. It’s from a reliable brand, has great connectivity options and is well priced considering the price of anything nowadays. For someone starting out, it’s a decent drop-top to go for.

Toyota Aygo

Fiat 500C: R 240 900

If you can’t spend more than R300K and you happen to be what the youth refer to as a “hipster”, then the Fiat 500C is right up your alley. It has the “I only drink almond milk” appeal to it. Jokes aside, this is a good little car with trendy looks and a summer vibe. It only has a 0.9 litre turbocharged engine but it will still get you from A to B. Again, this is a youthful car, or rather, for someone who doesn’t require much space, as it is compact. It has all the safety features you need and you  also allows you to pair your phone and jam some Katy Perry.

Fiat 500 C

Mazda MX5 Roadster: R 441 700

In theory, this car was meant to be under R400K but we’ll let that extra bit slide. The MX5 really needs no introduction, it’s a small, visceral car that has tons of personality. For decades, the MX5 has offered thrills with its normally aspirated engine and terrific gearbox. The new one doesn’t disappoint toot, too. With it comes a BOSE sound system, heated leather seats and a big grin. It doesn’t have too much power but has enough to keep you driving. If you want some fun at under R500K, this is one great choice.

BMW 2 Series Convertible: R 600 084

Literally scraping the R600K mark, the 2 Series Convertible is a winner in SA with BMW being a brand of aspiration and all. The 220i is what you can get for that money and it gives you a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that has enough power to match its good looks. It’s only available with an 8-speed automatic gearbox so cruising is a stress free thing since all the work is done for you. Those looking for more power have a 230i to choose from and if that’s not enough then there is the M240i, but those cars cost much more. The people’s choice, then, is the 220i since it offers the performance and the looks at a palatable price.

Mercedes C Class Convertible/ Audi A5 Convertible/ BMW 4 Series Convertible -/+ R700 000

These three cars are start at the same price bracket of approximately R700K. All are German engineered and all offer 2.0 litre turbocharged engines as a starting point. There’s really no point is us telling you what’s better than what because it’s all subjective after all, there is no bad car amongst these three. What we can tell you is that all three cars appeal to different people. BMW has always been associated with dynamic driving, whilst Audi is the more chicer option. The Mercedes-Benz is stereotypically the classy car but all of them do the same thing, basically. They are luxurious, they have great standard kit and they carry enough swag to make people look. Isn’t that the whole point of having a drop top? Either way, these are three very good cars indeed.

Audi A5 Convertible