What you need to know:
- You will always have that one person who swears they passed their drivers test after only three lessons, but this is far from the average. According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), it takes most people 45 hours of lessons to learn how to drive, plus 22 hours of practising.
Like any other skill, driving is taught and learnt. No one is born with the ability to drive but with lessons and practice, one can become a good driver.
There is no specific period a person should take to learn. However, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, learning to drive takes approximately 45 hours of lessons and 20 hours of practice.
Even then, it is not a guarantee that everyone learns within this timeframe. Some people will need more time while others less.
Sulaiman Driving School located in Jinja has been in business since the early 1990s and they are proud to have trained a number of drivers. Umalu Luyinda, one of the instructors, believes there is a specific period one should take to learn driving.
“One month is good enough. We start with theory for two weeks on a daily basis. Then, we try practicals in a small space before hitting the road. By the sixth week, the learner should be confident enough to drive on their own,” explains Luyinda.
He adds that before one is considered a good driver, they must master the basics such as how to rest their feet on the pedals, ideal seating posture, using the mirrors and understanding sign posts.
Other aspects include traffic laws, traffic signs, car basics, defensive driving, parking, turning, speed and blind spots.
Brian Omona, a court clerk, had been taught to drive by friends and felt confident enough to venture out on his own. One day, as he made a turn into his home, he forgot to use his mirrors and hit a motorcyclist, causing injuries.
According to Luyinda, using mirrors at all times is one of the basics taught to those learning to drive.
Jonathan Bisaso stopped going for his driving lessons because of amaxophobia (the fear of driving).
“My instructor kept telling me to focus and be confident but I kept my focus on other cars, thinking they would crash into me. Even after numerous attempts, I could not go past this fear,” he explains.
Apart from amaxophobia, there are a number of reasons why one would give up learning to drive. These include sight issues, disability, mental instability and lack of funds. The average Ugandan believes driving schools charge too much yet there are other ways one can learn to drive.
“I saw no reason for paying my hard earned cash to a driving instructor yet we had cars at home. My siblings became my teachers until I was ready to go out on the road alone,” recalls Innocent Kagina.
Asiimwe Dembe, commonly known as Mzee Dembe, the managing director of Dembe Driving School, believes one needs at least 30 hours of practice and 28 hours of theory before they can start driving.
“Driving is a skill and you can only get better by practising for the recommended time. The more you do it, the better you become,” he says.
While there is no specific age recommended for one to start driving lessons, Asiimwe advises those who want to learn to start early enough as teaching someone older is harder.
“It is better to start lessons at around 20 years of age. Someone older than 60 takes longer to learn due to slow decision making,” he explains.
Driving is a skill based on choosing the right option with safety coming first. The driver should evaluate situations and act fast enough, which might not be the case for older learners.
Asiimwe also thinks that people should not just use driving schools for acquiring driving licences but take time to hone their driving skills. Learning through a driving school is also safer than being taught by a friend or relative since these are not professionals.
Reckless driving remains the number one cause of accidents in Uganda according to the traffic directorate spokesperson Faridah Nampiima.
The Uganda Police Force website states that from April 24 to May 2, of the 9,679 traffic offenders arrested 1,709 were for reckless driving. Those driving cars in dangerous mechanical condition were 2,089, 837 for invalid driving licenses, 446 for speeding and 760 for not wearing seatbelts.
All these are human errors that can be corrected and avoided if one goes through the structured process of learning to drive, at a driving school just like many experts recommend.
Although there are cases of people who have given up on learning to drive, Asiimwe has not encountered a scenario where one attempts but fails to learn.