Transport Minister fails new driving test

Jaromir Schling

The Transport Minister Jaromir Schling was left with egg on his face on Saturday - after failing his driving test. Well, to be fair, he wasn't actually taking his test, but was attending a seminar on the country's newly approved highway code. For a bit of fun participants of the seminar were sat down and given the written part of the test. Mr Schling failed it. And no wonder, says commentator Vaclav Pinkava: the new driving test is far too theoretical, and doesn't deal with practical day-to-day situations. By Rob Cameron.

Jaromir Schling
Vaclav Pinkava:"Well the theoretical part of the driving test is a selection from a large number questions - 757 questions - which are multiple choice, but each question doesn't necessarily have one right answer. There are several options - four options - and you say which of them apply...And it's not something you would know by knowing how to drive. It's a lexical definition what does the law cover and what doesn't it cover. And quite honestly, who cares?"

Radio Prague: But surely they also cover the standard things, when to give way to whom etc...?

VP:"Oh yes, with diagrams. You get nice pictures, you know - here's a junction, there are three cars on it, who has right of way...I think the real crux of it is that having collected your points you then go for a half-hour practical, where if you're very lucky you live in a part of the country where there isn't such a thing as a junction with traffic lights so you don't have to do one of those, and then you get to drive. And of course, one day you're going to be driving into the big city, which actually has junctions with traffic lights, and you won't know what to do with one of those! Except on paper of course, and it looks a little different on paper, because you don't get a little red car, a little green car and a little yellow car and just that, you get chaos and sunlight coming into your eyes. Really it seems to me that an idiot savant who could memorise 757 questions and get the answers off pat, without understanding any of them, but just recognising that question number 47 has the following right answer, could get a driver's license.

RP: Right. Mr Schling, the Transport Minister - he's actually a former driving instructor we should point out - he got a number of questions wrong. He got a question about insurance wrong, and he also got some of his traffic signs mixed up. But nonetheless, he says there's nothing wrong with the new law, and he sees no reason to change it. Do you think he should change it?

VP:"We will have to wait and see in a sense. Whether the accident rate in this country goes down or not, that's the acid test...What is wrong with, for example, the British driving test, when the accident statistics in Britain are 6-8 times better than in this country? And that's actually where I took my driving test, back in 1977, and I can say first hand that in the 20 years I lived in Britain I saw two accidents with my own eyes. Here I see two a day driving through Prague. So that's actually the problem. It's not practical enough. It's nice in theory.

RP: And have you taken the Czech test?

VP:"Errrrr - Pass! Don't put that in! Because I haven't and I don't intend to. I don't think I'd pass it. I'm a safe driver who's been driving for donkey's years. Left-hand drive, right-hand drive, all over Europe. No accidents. But would I pass the Czech driving test? God knows!