SHAH ALAM: Some driving schools are skimping on operational costs by hiring any Tom, Dick and Harry to teach learner drivers.
These uncertified “driving instructors” never sat the compulsory two-week training as required by the Road Transport Department (RTD), which mandated them to be “seasoned drivers” as well as having a clean record.
The department was cracking down on driving schools hiring these instructors.
Driving school instructors had to sit a two-week course at the RTD academy in Melaka to obtain a certificate known as Sijil Pengajar Institut Memandu (SPIM, or driving school instructors’ certificate), which qualified them to teach and grade learner drivers, said RTD deputy director-general (operation) Datuk Wan Ahmad Uzir Wan Sulaiman.
“However, some feel that it is okay to do it without certification since the fine is low. If this is the case, we will increase the amount as a deterrence.
“We want them to go for the course to achieve the qualifications and also to ensure the safety of students,” he said.
Driving school owners and the uncertified instructors were now being let off with just a slap on the wrist.
Uncertified instructors who were caught would be issued three summonses — one to the instructor and two for the driving school for allowing an uncertified instructor to teach and use the institute’s car.
Under the Motor Vehicle Rules (Driving School) 1992, the compounds ranged from RM300 to RM2,000. For uncertified instructors, the maximum fine was only RM300.
Driving school owners, sources in RTD said, were reluctant to let their potential instructors off for two weeks to attend the training and cough up around RM1,000 for the course.
Selangor RTD director Nazli Abu Taib said it was important for driving schools to act in accordance with the law.
“There is no way of knowing the level of education or competency of students as these instructors do not have knowledge.
“They may be teaching based on other people’s experience. Or it is simply because they have a licence and can drive, but the students are not being taught the right lessons.
“Imagine if 20 driving schools employ one uncertified instructor, and each of them teaches three students. There will be 60 students trained by these incompetent instructors.”
Nazli said RTD was tracking down uncertified instructors as well as the owners of the driving schools.
Some institutes and instructors — certified and uncertified — were also working hand in hand to beat the system.
For instance, an instructor with SPIM would use his thumbprint to sign off a learner’s session, but it was an uncertified instructor who actually taught the student.
He said RTD had been conducting checks and monitoring driving schools, as well as unlicensed registration centres to nab offenders.
Nazli said learners, too, would pay the price as the hours they clocked in with an uncertified instructor would be deemed invalid. They would have to take their lessons again with a certified instructor.
“Learners may not know if their instructors have SPIM. We encourage instructors to place their licence at places where people can see them.”
He advised learners to contact RTD if they spotted anything unusual about their instructors.
Last year, 21 instructors were caught teaching illegally. In January, the Selangor RTD recorded eight cases of uncertified instructors.
“Some schools claim they are not aware of their instructors’ status, but it is their responsibility to ensure that they are qualified with SPIM.”
There are 20 licensed driving institutes in Selangor and the state is the second highest issuer of driving licences.
Last year, it had 127,046 learners registering for driving classes.