Longer validity period for Provisional Driving Licence: Traffic Police
SINGAPORE — All learner motorists will have the validity of their Provisional Driving Licence (PDL) extended from six months to two years by the fourth quarter of this year, the Traffic Police announced on Friday (June 30). Simulation training will also be made compulsory for all learner drivers come 2019, they added.
Trials for the simulation training, catered to local weather and traffic conditions, will start in the first quarter of next year at all three driving schools in Singapore. Learners — regardless of whether they are enrolled in a driving school or taught by a private driving instructor — must attend the training before they can book a date for the practical test, though details such as fees and duration have not yet been worked out.
Superintendent Hisham Mohd Saad, head of the Traffic Police’s testing and licensing branch, said: “Unlike traditional methods, simulation training will enable learner motorists to undergo experiential learning and handle real-life traffic situations in a safe and controlled environment, without risks of injury.”
Users would be able to understand the importance of keeping a safe driving distance during wet weather, or the proper way to react when a child suddenly dashes out onto the road, for instance, he added.
Learner motorists will be able to apply or renew their PDL online or through the Police@SG mobile app by the fourth quarter this year. Hard copies of the licence will no longer be issued.
As part of its efforts to train safer and more competent drivers on the road, the Traffic Police will also be making digital copies of the Basic and Final Theory Driving handbooks available to the public for free from today, via a new online learning portal on www.police.gov.sg and the mobile app. They will be in four languages — English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil — and hard copies will no longer be published from now on.
By next year, learners and motorists will also have access to free and unlimited attempts to do online mock tests for the basic, final and riding theory tests on the portal, among other resources.
The mock tests will be available in two modes: Feedback and practice. In the feedback mode, users will be directed to the relevant content in the theory handbooks and given feedback after every question, whereas the practice mode will give them a chance to do the entire test before being shown the result at the end.
These latest series of initiatives, Supt Hisham said, would “go a long way towards creating good road sense” for those who drive.
Full-time national serviceman Simon Leong, 19, who just passed his basic theory test in May after spending numerous nights studying for it in camp, rejoiced at the news that the validity period for PDLs has been extended.
“I was initially still quite worried about not being able to finish learning (driving) in time, because… I can only attend lessons on weekends when I book out, so six months might not have been enough,” he said. His practical lessons are held at Bukit Batok Driving Centre two to three times a month.
However, Mr Tan Leng Kiat, 55, who obtained his driving licence some 20 years ago, said that the prolonged validity period may cause learners to “become complacent” and their skills to “turn rusty”. This, in turn, means that driving instructors may have to spend more time going through previous lesson content with their students.
“For skills like driving, you have to keep practising,” Mr Tan, who is self-employed, said. “You stop for a while, you end up forgetting.”
Undergraduate Lorraine Ng, 22, who took private driving lessons and got her Class 3A driving licence last year, said that the mandatory simulation training would certainly be useful. “I remember being quite apprehensive about driving even after getting my licence even though I had practical lessons… because I didn’t know what kind of situations I will face,” she said. “So the simulator will give learners more confidence.”
Ms Ng also lauded the move to provide free digital copies of the handbooks, saying that she can now refer to them if she forgets any traffic rules or regulations.
Mr Richard Tan, 65, who has been a private driving instructor for more than 20 years, said that the simulation training would also be helpful for foreigners, who make up about half of his student pool. “They are not so familiar with the traffic rules in Singapore, so (this) will help them,” he said.
However, he is concerned about costs, since fees for the training are not decided yet. Many of his students take private lessons because it is a cheaper alternative to lessons at the driving schools, he explained.
“Having this additional component (may mean they would) have to spend more money,” he said. “I hope it’s not too expensive.”