Anyone who has traveled on an Indonesian road has probably wondered how a driver's license is obtained here or just simply thought that it came in a corn flakes box. Nevertheless, the theory is that there is supposed to be a theory test and this is supposed to be followed by a practical test. This is the theory but it is not always the reality.
However, in a pilot project being run in Semarang the National Police are trialing and AVIS system. AVIS is an Audio Visual Integrated System. The system is in use in a number of other countries including Indonesia's former colonial master, The Netherlands. It is The Netherlands that is playing the major funding and support role in trialing this technology in Indonesia.
Apparently, Semarang was chosen because it has the highest number of traffic accidents of any place throughout the archipelago.
The AVIS requires an applicant to answer 30 questions. The answers are simple true or false and require nothing more than the press of a button. To pass the AVIS you must score 60%. By my reckoning that means you can get 12 answers wrong and still pass. Once you pass the AVIS then you can continue onto the practical driving test. If you fail, then you have to wait 14 days before being granted another crack at the test.
In a recent demonstration only 12 of the 30 applicants who took the test were able to pass. This translates into a 40% success rate. Now, if these results were to hold true in the general population and the police required everyone to sit the test at their next license renewal then conceivably there could be 60% less drivers on Indonesian roads than there are presently. This would mean that Jakarta traffic would look like what it will over the next couple of days, every day. The mass exodus from the capital for the Eid celebration is well and truly underway.
The police seem to think that AVIS will not only ensure better drivers because of improving standards but it will also make the whole process of issuing a drivers license a whole lot more transparent. If I was a betting man this would be an interesting bet to make. The idea that AVIS will work as a reducer of the amount of corruption within the police force with respect to the issuing of licenses. A better mechanism might include spinning off the whole driver licensing process from the police and place it in a Directorate General at the Department of Transport.
The traffic accident data from 2006 shows that there were almost 90,000 accidents throughout the archipelago. These accidents resulted in some 15,000 deaths and some 82,000 injuries. This means that at least one person died for every six accidents recorded. The data also highlights that almost every accident that was recorded almost inevitably resulted in an injury.
More alarming though is the 2007 data which shows a significant decrease in the number of accidents recorded but an increase in the number of deaths. In 2007 there were some 48,000 accidents but some 16,500 deaths. This means that there was a fatality recorded for every three accidents.
With accident data like this then anything that ensures higher driving standards is a welcome relief.