CAMP BOFFIN

Go! Camp & Drive - - CONTENTS - Text Kyle Kock Pho­tos Kyle Kock and Leon Botha

When re­vi­sions were made to the to the road traf­fic act in 1998, the old nu­mer­i­cal li­cence codes were switched to the let­ters that are in use to­day. But there are some among us who want to legally tow our car­a­vans to hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions in and around the coun­try. Here’s how to do it the proper, le­gal way.

First of all, you’re go­ing to have to check your ex­ist­ing driver’s li­cence code. If you don’t know where this is, it’s right in the mid­dle of your card along­side the word “code”. If you’re un­der the age of 40, the chances are high that when you passed it was for a Code B li­cence, which en­ables you to drive a light mo­tor ve­hi­cle legally and tow a trailer with a Gross Ve­hi­cle Mass (GVM) not ex­ceed­ing 750 kg.

But most car­a­vans have a GVM higher than that, and an EB li­cence means that you are legally al­lowed tow an ar­tic­u­lated ve­hi­cle or a rigid ve­hi­cle and trailer up to a Gross Com­bi­na­tion Mass (GCM) of 3 500 kg, which would be the added-up max­i­mum of most SUVs and bakkies avail­able in our mar­ket with a fairly big car­a­van, too.

If your li­cence says EB, then you don’t have to read any fur­ther, un­less you want to send your spouse or child for the EB to help with tow­ing duty in fu­ture. In that case, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re 30, like me, and have been ca­su­ally tow­ing your dad’s old Penta with your KB down to the coast for Christ­mas, you’re prob­a­bly on the wrong side of the law, be­cause your driv­ing test did not in­clude a trailer hitched to the rear of the ve­hi­cle you were driv­ing.

HIT THE BOOKS

The bad news is that if you’re al­ready a B li­cence holder, you’re go­ing to have to check in at your near­est Traf­fic Depart­ment or Driv­ing Test Cen­tre and book a learner’s li­cence test date. That means you’re go­ing to have to do the writ­ten test again. You’ll need to take your iden­tity doc­u­ment along, two ID pho­tos (35 mm x 45 mm) and the ap­pli­ca­tion fee of R68.

You’ll also need a proof of ad­dress, such as a util­ity bill or a let­ter from your bank con­firm­ing your res­i­den­tial ad­dress. Some of the bet­ter equipped gov­ern­ment houses use a new num­bered queu­ing sys­tem that speeds up the ap­pli­ca­tion pro­cesses. You will also do an eye test with your ap­pli­ca­tion.

Once you’ve made the ap­point­ment, it’s time to start study­ing. There is the of­fi­cial K53 Learn­ers and Drivers Made Easy book, which you can find in a book­shop or at a news­stand. I bor­rowed a copy from a col­league, who also shared a few old exam pa­pers and an­swer sheets with me so I could “prac­tise” writ­ing the test.

But by far the eas­i­est method is dig­i­tal, be­cause there are a num­ber of apps you can down­load that will help you pre­pare for writ­ing your test. I pur­chased one called K53 Ques­tions & An­swers. The ver­sion you can down­load for free is just 25 MB. It will have a trial list of 25 mul­ti­ple choice ques­tions you can an­swer. The aim is ob­vi­ously to an­swer all the ques­tions cor­rectly.

You will get bom­barded with no­ti­fi­ca­tions there­after warn­ing you that you might fail if you don’t buy the other seven sets of ques­tion pa­pers. It’s just R30 and, once you pay, you get a pass­word that you insert once you re­open the app. Then, all the ques­tions and an­swers are there for­ever un­til you delete the app.

The re­quired pass mark is high, and rightly so. We wouldn’t want to risk hav­ing new drivers on our roads who aren’t fa­mil­iar with ba­sic road signs. The K53 app will def­i­nitely en­able you to pass your learn­ers but, to truly gain plenty of in­sight, per­haps in­vest in the of­fi­cial K53 Learn­ers and Drivers Made Easy books. Or buy the of­fi­cial K53 app (R40 on Google Play).

If you’ve been driv­ing for a while, you’ll be very fa­mil­iar with the usual signs you come across on your daily rou­tine, and prob­a­bly sur­prise your­self at what you’ve for­got­ten over the years. For ex­am­ple, you’re sup­posed to stop at least a car’s length be­tween you and the ve­hi­cle in front of you. For the pur­poses of pass­ing your test, you have to be able to stop safely and demon­strate that you are able to do so while in full con­trol of your ve­hi­cle. This means that you can­not coast in neu­tral be­fore stop­ping. Ei­ther gear­ing down or come to a com­plete stop in your cur­rent gear and then pull up the park­ing brake be­fore se­lect­ing first gear and do­ing your ob­ser­va­tions and set­ting off again. >

TRAIN­ING WHEELS. The first step is ob­tain­ing a learner’s li­cence, which in­cludes a lot of the­ory. You don’t need to mem­o­rise the en­tire book though (above). It’s far sim­pler to rather pur­chase an app with a few ques­tion pa­pers that will pre­pare you for the test within hours of down­load­ing it.

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