In a recent survey conducted by consumer insights company Pondering Panda, it was found that almost 3 in 5 young South Africans with drivers’ licences claimed to know someone who had paid money to ensure they passed their drivers’ test. 2768 respondents, aged between 18 and 34, were interviewed across South Africa, and asked about their opinion regarding corruption in traffic departments.The survey found that of those who said they had a licence, 59% claimed to know someone who paid money to ensure that they passed their drivers’ test. In comparison, 30% said they did not know someone who had done this, and 11% were unsure.This practice occurred most often in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape, according to respondents who had drivers’ licences, where 77% and 70%, respectively, said they knew someone who had paid a bribe to pass their test. In comparison, Western Cape respondents were the least likely to make this claim, with 49% saying they knew someone who had bribed their way to a licence.
Opinion was divided on why applicants paid money to pass their drivers’ test. 30% of respondents who had a drivers’ licence said the long waiting times to take the test again was the motivation to use a bribe to ensure a pass. 28% said that traffic officials would not pass applicants if they did not receive money, and that this was why people paid a bribe. In contrast, 22% said that the drivers’ test itself was too difficult, and this resulted in bribes for a guaranteed pass.
The perception of corruption in traffic departments went beyond just those with drivers’ licences. More than 4 in 5 (81%) of all respondents, whether they were licensed drivers or not, felt that there was corruption in traffic departments. This opinion was consistent across all demographic groups.
Shirley Wakefield, spokesperson for Pondering Panda said, “This survey shows that bribery and corruption is seen to be endemic in South Africa’s traffic departments. The fact that the majority of young drivers claim to know someone who has obtained their drivers’ licence through bribery should be very worrying to the government. South Africa’s roads are already among the most dangerous in the world, and new drivers who have not passed their test are only making the situation worse. A big part of why this is happening is the waiting times between tests which applicants have to go through. This is clearly very frustrating for young people, many of whom may need a licence to get a job. The traffic department needs to reduce these waiting times, and the government needs to crack down on corrupt officials if we are to see more properly qualified drivers on our roads.”
All interviews were carried out on cellphones between the 22nd and 24th of May, across South Africa. Responses were weighted to be nationally representative in terms of age, gender and race.