More than 26 000 unlicensed drivers have been caught behind the wheel on Cape Town’s roads in just three months, says the city council.
The figure has officials so worried that the city’s safety and security portfolio committee has placed it high on the agenda at meetings, and it is exploring ways to tackle this “danger on the road”.
In July, 10 862 unlicensed drivers were bust by metro police and the city’s traffic services, the city said. In August, the figure dipped slightly to 9 507, while in June more than 6 000 unlicensed drivers were nabbed.
September’s figures are still being collated.
Meanwhile, the Western Cape traffic department said its officers had bust 2 168 unlicensed drivers on the province’s roads in September.
The city said its traffic services figures were separate from the thousands of motorists who had valid licences but were fined for failing to carry them.
To deal with the problem, the city’s safety and security portfolio committee is set to propose a plan where sub-councils use ward allocations to open more testing centres.
There are 18 driving testing centres in the city, where about 5300 tests are conducted each month.
The failure rate for driving licences is 60 percent and 40 percent for learner’s licences.
The average waiting period for a driving licence test is about four months.
The Gallows Hill testing centre in Green Point has the longest wait – just more than four months.
Adding to the backlog are the 1500 learner drivers who miss driving licence appointments each month. In May, 2050 missed their driving licence tests.
JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the city had opened five new centres to reduce the backlog, bringing the waiting time down to four months from about six to nine months a few years ago.
Merle Lourens, city traffic services spokeswoman, said that apart from the 6378 unlicensed drivers nabbed in June there were 4374 drivers with valid licences who were fined for not having their licences with them.
Lourens said errant drivers were fined and not allowed to drive further.
“Either the officer or the driver makes contact with a family member or friend with a valid licence to come and fetch the driver and to drive the vehicle.
“In the case of an underage driver (under 18 years), the parent or guardian is also charged for permitting an unlicensed driver to drive.”
Motorists driving a light motor vehicle faced a R500 fine, while the person who permitted the unlicensed driver to drive the vehicle was fined R1000, said Lourens.
She said the large number of unlicensed drivers was a cause for concern.
“The unlicensed driver may know the workings of a vehicle, but may not know the rules of the road which leads to the possibility of accidents, inconsiderate driving, reckless driving and disregard for road traffic signs, which can contribute to accidents,” she said.
The reasons for low compliance were varied.
Lourens said: “Some people drive without a licence out of desperation because their job is dependent on them driving, while some just don’t respect the rules of the road,” .
She said traffic services would continue their rigorous clampdown on unlicensed drivers.
Smith said that last week the portfolio committee had discussed the high number of unlicensed drivers.
This committee would now formulate a business plan for sub-councils to use ward allocations to make more testing centres available, especially for learner driver tests.
Harold Williams, spokesman for the provincial traffic department, said officers caught 2168 unlicensed drivers in the Western Cape in September.
“Unlicensed drivers are a danger on the road. They have not gone through the prescribed test to see if they can operate a motor vehicle in a safe manner,” added Williams