Posted on February 19th, 2016

By Dr. Tilak S Fernando

In Sri Lanka safety on the roads depends to a greater extent how a driving instructor moulds a beginner to become a licensed and confident driver with full knowledge of the Highway Code. However, it is a sad affair to observe some Driving School Instructors sitting like lemons, next to the learner, and allowing novices to drive erratically with no proper guidance thus breaking the law. First and foremost, what is indispensible would be to re-test all the present licensed instructors to assess whether they are fit to be ‘driving instructors’ before starting to give wrong instructions to potential new drivers.

driving by a dogPicture Credit: ​k21382936 Fotosearch Stock Photo Photograph Royalty Fre

Another frequent aspect is that most driving schools use vans rather than cars to train applicants. To eradicate this loophole, the new regulations suggested for the future will make all driving schools have a variety of vehicles-both manual and automatic transmission. It is unclear whether in Sri Lanka any motorist passing the test on an automatic transmission gearbox is permitted to drive a manually operated vehicle! In other countries, of course, those who take the driving test on an automatic transmission vehicle are banned from driving a manually operated vehicle.

The authorities in Sri Lanka completely ignore when driving instructors permit friends and family members of the learner to sit inside the same vehicle when a learner is on the road and taking instructions. In doing so they are taking unwanted risks, because in case of a sudden accident during training, it’s not only the instructor and the learner who will be injured, but the lot who are inside the vehicle during training. The Law therefore needs to be strict (if it is not there already) and the traffic police made responsible to execute the law vigilantly.

The Motor Traffic department’s latest plans include many new regulations on driving schools such as driving instructors having to pass a written and a practical examination before they could undertake to train others. A future-driving instructor should therefore possess the GCE (O.L) examination plus an additional work experience for five years as an ‘assistant instructor’. (Although such a provision as ‘Official Assistant Instructor’ is not found at present). Any future-driving instructor will have to be between 23-65 years of age with a clean driving licence for more than five years.

UK Model

In the UK only the Advanced Driving Instructors (ADI) are permitted to give learners instructions. To become an ADI one has to pass the Advanced Driving Test. The ADT consists of 3 part parts, the first is on theory, part 2 gives the necessary experience to train others to drive; simultaneously the applicant can prepare for the ADI part 3 test. Only on completion part 3 he becomes qualified as an ADI. An ADI should renew his licence once in every 4 years.

The ADI Register is operating on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport in the UK. It is responsible for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). ADI Register can refuse anyone joining it, or it has the power to remove one if proven that one does not have a high standard of driving and instructional ability and lacks responsible attitude to the pupils and profession. If Sri Lanka is to adopt the British Model, the Motor Traffic Department will have to liaise with the Motor Vehicle Commissioner’s office to formulate a modus operandi.

The ADI Registrar is operating on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport in the UK and it is responsible for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Advanced Driving Instructor can refuse anyone joining the  ADI Register or can remove one from the Register in certain circumstances if proven that one does not have a high standard of driving and instructional ability and lacks responsible attitude to the pupils and profession as well. If Sri Lanka is to adopt the British model Motor Traffic Department will have to liaise with the Motor Vehicle Commissioner’s office to formulate a modus operandi.

Motor Cycles

In Sri Lanka there does not seem to have any institutions to train motorcyclists, except the Police conducting their Induction Courses for Asst. Superintendents, Probationary Sub Inspectors, Recruitment of Police Constables and Police Constable Drivers.

It becomes therefore vitally important to make it mandatory for all motorcyclists to undergo proper training prior to applying for a driving licence since accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of age and experience. In this regard, every motorcycle licence applicant should be made mandatory to take up a safety and a training course  (by emulating the British modes operandi) either through a school appointed by the State or an appointed official agent.

In the UK it is compulsory for motorcycle and moped riders to go through a basic training on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) course first. Only after such training and within 2 years of possessing such training, the applicant can pass the full motorcycle licence test .

CBT courses in the UK are booked through an approved training body.  There are certified instructors authorised to conduct CBT courses who are over 21 years of age with a full current GB licence A2 or A. They should be ‘ fit and proper’ and have held a full motorcycle entitlement for at least 3 years. Emulating the British model would benefit the motorcycle community in Sri Lanka and reduce the ever increasing road accidents and deaths!

New Concepts

New concepts by the Motor Traffic Department would be the introduction of new regulations for all driving schools to display their charges with detailed & explanatory charging tariffs; all driving schools are to have adequate facilities from manual to automatic transmission gear boxes; proper buildings with toilet facilities; lecture halls with competent lecturers with an abundance of display of road signs and the provision driving school vehicles to be inspected and assessed by the DOT every six months for new appraisal.





  1. Nimal Says:

    I just haven’t got the time to read your article but what you are writing is our driving skills and road etiquette is decimal compared to UK.Very true I say what you wrote above.That goes for everything in the island where ambude clad politicians are hoodwinking the people and the people are hoodwinking themselves. UK is a good role model as a stable country where most wants to live.
    So make an effort to convince our people from the bottom to the top be like us here in London and UK.
    Main religion is being exploited by the politicians to hoodwink us and that rot had gone down to the street level.
    Our enemies will exploit this and intervene forcibly should there be divisions in the country created by the culture thus created and the people, mainly the politicians that created the sorry situation since 1948 will be long gone to the affluent Western counties.
    To day I had a disappointing day with my workers on the work site in SL where out of the 6 workers,who are well paid Rs 2000 a day was found 5 of them were sleeping in the shed at 11AM,drunk from the previous night.The only one that was working was the one we had much positive influence over the years.One of the kinpin who was drunk was reprimanded previously for coming to the site very late and his excuse was he took his daughter to the ‘Daham pasala’which he used and an excuse hoping that I will fall for it.
    We need the colonial types to save our country or we will be overwhelmed by the big brother India. SL is now friendless due to silly backward policies and culture created by the conniving politicians and the developed world will wake up to a situation where some countries like ours will be sacrificed for the better good of the world.Only think that is delaying this day of reckoning is the reluctance of China and Russia. Bringing down of the oil prices is a good ploy, just as a powerful country use to release the rubber stock piles to the world markets in late 50sd and 60s to control the countries. Now it is oil.There’s no room or tolerance for losers and SL is one of them deliberately brought to the sorry situation deliberately, which is self inflicted. RW is right when he said that we must come out of the South Asian mentality.RW knows this and he named his house Carlton and it’s a pity that he didn’t extend that to the country. This is the tragedy of the third world.

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