Learner Drivers & Instructors in Sri Lanka

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In Sri Lanka safety on the roads depends to a greater extent how a driving instructor moulds a beginner to become a licensed and confident driver with full knowledge of the Highway Code. However, it is a sad affair to observe some Driving School Instructors sitting like lemons, next to the learner, and allowing novices to drive erratically with no proper guidance thus breaking the law. First and foremost, what is indispensible would be to re-test all the present licensed instructors to assess whether they are fit to be ‘driving instructors’ before starting to give wrong instructions to potential new drivers.

 Another frequent aspect is that most driving schools use vans rather than cars to train applicants. To eradicate this loophole, the new regulations suggested for the future will make all driving schools have a variety of vehicles-both manual and automatic transmission. It is unclear whether in Sri Lanka any motorist passing the test on an automatic transmission gearbox is permitted to drive a manually operated vehicle! In other countries, of course, those who take the driving test on an automatic transmission vehicle are banned from driving a manually operated vehicle.  

 The authorities in Sri Lanka completely ignore when driving instructors permit friends and family members of the learner to sit inside the same vehicle when a learner is on the road and taking instructions. In doing so they are taking unwanted risks, because in case of a sudden accident during training, it’s not only the instructor and the learner who will be injured, but the lot who are inside the vehicle during training. The Law therefore needs to be strict (if it is not there already) and the traffic police made responsible to execute the law vigilantly.

 The Motor Traffic department’s latest plans include many new regulations on driving schools such as driving instructors having to pass a written and a practical examination before they could undertake to train others. A future-driving instructor should therefore possess the GCE (O.L) examination plus an additional work experience for five years as an ‘assistant instructor’. (Although such a provision as ‘Official Assistant Instructor’ is not found at present). Any future-driving instructor will have to be between 23-65 years of age with a clean driving licence for more than five years.

 UK Model

 In the UK only the Advanced Driving Instructors (ADI) are permitted to give learners instructions. To become an ADI one has to pass the Advanced Driving Test. The ADT consists of 3 part parts, the first is on theory, part 2 gives the necessary experience to train others to drive; simultaneously the applicant can prepare for the ADI part 3 test. Only on completion part 3 he becomes qualified as an ADI. An ADI should renew his licence once in every 4 years.

The ADI Register is operating on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport in the UK. It is responsible for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). ADI Register can refuse anyone joining it, or it has the power to remove one if proven that one does not have a high standard of driving and instructional ability and lacks responsible attitude to the pupils and profession. If Sri Lanka is to adopt the British Model, the Motor Traffic Department will have to liaise with the Motor Vehicle Commissioner’s office to formulate a modus operandi.

The ADI Registrar is operating on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport in the UK and it is responsible for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Advanced Driving Instructor can refuse anyone joining the  ADI Register or can remove one from the Register in certain circumstances if proven that one does not have a high standard of driving and instructional ability and lacks responsible attitude to the pupils and profession as well. If Sri Lanka is to adopt the British model Motor Traffic Department will have to liaise with the Motor Vehicle Commissioner’s office to formulate a modus operandi.

 Motor Cycles

 In Sri Lanka there does not seem to have any institutions to train motorcyclists, except the Police conducting their Induction Courses for Asst. Superintendents, Probationary Sub Inspectors, Recruitment of Police Constables and Police Constable Drivers. 

It becomes therefore vitally important to make it mandatory for all motorcyclists to undergo proper training prior to applying for a driving licence since accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of age and experience. In this regard, every motorcycle licence applicant should be made mandatory to take up a safety and a training course  (by emulating the British modes operandi) either through a school appointed by the State or an appointed official agent.

In the UK it is compulsory for motorcycle and moped riders to go through a basic training on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) course first. Only after such training and within 2 years of possessing such training, the applicant can pass the full motorcycle licence test .

 CBT courses in the UK are booked through an approved training body.  There are certified instructors authorised to conduct CBT courses who are over 21 years of age with a full current GB licence A2 or A. They should be ‘ fit and proper’ and have held a full motorcycle entitlement for at least 3 years. Emulating the British model would benefit the motorcycle community in Sri Lanka and reduce the ever increasing road accidents and deaths!

 New Concepts

 New concepts by the Motor Traffic Department would be the introduction of new regulations for all driving schools to display their charges with detailed & explanatory charging tariffs; all driving schools are to have adequate facilities from manual to automatic transmission gear boxes; proper buildings with toilet facilities; lecture halls with competent lecturers with an abundance of display of road signs and the provision driving school vehicles to be inspected and assessed by the DOT every six months for new appraisal.

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