Learner truck drivers pose danger in De La Haye

Residents are tired of driving schools using De La Haye for practising.

De La Haye residents say their suburb’s streets are no place for learner truck drivers to practise after one of them lost control of his vehicle.

The driver from the Kirsty’s Excellence Driving School narrowly missed some wheelie bins and ended up on a resident’s front yard on the corner of Frans Hals and Wenning streets, on Wednesday March 1.

The driver reportedly drove off, when approached by a resident.

No one was injured, but the incident has spooked the neighbourhood with residents saying it underscores the threat posed by learner drivers grappling with three-ton trucks along roads lined by families’ homes.

Kirsty’s Excellence Driving School declined to comment on the incident, but JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security and social services, said traffic services had responded to the complaint, but found that all driving instructors using the road in question had the necessary documentation.

But this offers little reassurance to residents who complain that the driving schools use the suburb — especially Romney, Frans Hals, Gainsborough and Raeburn streets — seven days a week from 7am to 8pm.

They believe there are other roads , such as those in the Stikland Industrial area, which would be better suited for the learner drivers, especially over weekends.

Sean Kriel moved to the area from a complex in Table View three years ago for the benefit of his family but now he questions if the move was worth it.

“I can’t even let my children play outside with their bikes,” he said.

Mr Kriel said he understood learner drivers needed to get road experience, but he felt they should find somewhere more suitable to practise.

De La Haye Neighbourhood Watch member Cheryl Cowley has lived in the area for 40 years. She said there had been a few close encounters in her road, the latest in January when a learner driver rode the kerb in front of her home, while she was outside working in the garden.

The issue was raised at the De La Haye Neighbourhood Watch’s annual general meeting in September last year, but, at the time, Ward 3 councillor Brendan van der Merwe, told residents little could be done as the trucks were using public roads.

Mr Smith said no restrictions were placed on driving schools using residential roads for driving lessons – they could use any public road in the city.

“As long as the vehicle and the driver comply with the provisions of the National Road Traffic Act, there is nothing that can be done as they are not breaking the law,” he said.

A driving instructor, who asked not to be named, said they had to teach learner drivers how to drive on actual roads in order for them to pass, and De La Haye was one of the testing routes used by Bellville traffic department.

“We have to teach learners how to drive according to the K53 method and this does take some time,” the instructor said.

Mr Smith, however, said De La Haye did not generally form part of the prescribed and approved routes of the traffic department.

“The licensing section does not have control over the training of applicants and the routes used or times of tuition by their instructors,” he said.

Another resident, Marlies Vos said other issues included the stops and pull-aways done by learner drivers, stalling of vehicles – particularly at three-way intersections and the fact that it had become too dangerous to park cars along the side of the road.

Residents say they have approached some of the driving schools but they continue to go about their business.

Mr Smith said complaints about speeding needed to be reported to the City’s traffic control room at 021 596 1999 or to the Public Emergency Communication Centre by dialling 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline.