Category : Driving
POLICE checks on driving instructors will be abolished under a State Government revamp of licence testing that from next week will allow anyone with a driver’s licence to go into business teaching learner drivers.
Ms Eunice Walters, the president of the Victorian Motor Schools Association, which represents much of the driving school industry, said last week that it was not ready for the changes that had been “dumped” on it.
Ms Walters, whose organisation has been consulting with the State Government and the RACV, said driving school Blacktown would be given the power to issue licences within 12 months.
`The Sunday Age’ has obtained a VicRoads memo dated 26 November, issued by Mr Geoff Shanks, the manager of licensing and registration policy, which says driving instructor licensing will be officially abolished on 19 December.
Under present regulations, best driving instructors in Craigieburn normally undergo a rigorous $1000 to $1500 training course under the auspices of the VMSA and a three-stage test that examines their driving skills and road knowledge, their teaching ability and their good character including police records.
Ms Walters said the industry was shocked at the changes and had major safety concerns on the road and also in the instruction vehicles if teachers with criminal and drink driving records were able to enter the business.
A spokesman for VicRoads confirmed that the deregulation was going ahead and said that while there was no immediate plans to change the system for testing car drivers, it was under review.
“Accreditation of organisations to deliver registration and licensing services to specified standards offers great potential to provide better customer service and reduce the cost of delivering these services while ensuring that standards, safety and security are maintained,” said the spokesman.
The VicRoads memo says in part: “It would be expected that Registration and Licensing office staff would assist in treating this issue in as positive a way as possible explaining to the members of the driver training industry that the move has come about as a result of the Government’s desire to remove what is seen as unnecessary regulation …
“It in turn provides a real opportunity for the industry to organise itself in a way which ensures that training standards are maintained if not significantly improved.”
Some motorcycle licences are already issued by private instruction schools and expressions of interest are being considered for issuing heavy vehicle licences.
The VMSA has prepared for the changes by instituting a code of conduct, a review of its constitution and accreditation proposals for the relevant minister, Mr Baxter.
Ms Walters said many of her members _ the VMSA represents 400 of the 1200 active driving instructors in the state _ and nearly all of the non-members were disgruntled by the changes, which they believe would lead to widespread price-cutting and lower safety standards.
Victoria’s assistant police commissioner for traffic, Mr Frank Green, when contacted by `The Sunday Age’ yesterday, said he had not been notified of the changes but said that the present system was already “fragmented”.
“It is pretty much open slather at the moment anyway,” said Mr Green. “Where is the integrity of the present training system in terms of standards? These changes can’t make it much worse.”