Flemish mobility minister Ben Weyts has expressed concern regarding the Brussels-Capital Region’s new driving licence system, which comes into force in January. One of the options will be 30 hours of tuition from a driving school followed immediately by a test. In that case, the existing practice period is no longer required.

“All of the research shows that practical experience is the most important part of driver training,” said Weyts, “and that new drivers are at their most vulnerable during that beginner period.”

In Flanders, new drivers have to spend nine months practising with a licensed driver before being able to take a test. “Brussels is now cutting that crucial period for those with enough money to zero days,” said Weyts.

The new system will operate according to a sliding scale of practical experience, depending on the hours of lessons followed. The 30-hour option involves no wait and will cost about €1,500. Twenty hours of lessons must be followed by three months of practice, while 14 hours of lessons sees the practical period extended to six months.

Finally, it is possible to take a test with no lessons, but in that case nine months of driving practice is required. Fewer hours of lessons also costs less.

“Just as we are doing everything in Flanders to raise the bar with better driver education, Brussels is giving out the opposite signal and is basically selling driver’s licenses.”

Brussels secretary of state for road safety, Bianca Debaets, defended the region’s policy. “Instead of focusing on how many kilometres you’ve driven, pay more attention to the type of kilometres,” she said. “You can drive for thousands of kilometres on the motorway or on the back roads of Beersel, but that doesn’t equip drivers for the pressure of urban traffic. And we do expect future motorists to be able to manage everywhere, including the more difficult situations.”

The reality, she continued, “is that anyone who can drive in Brussels after 30 supervised hours can drive anywhere”.

Photo: Mark Renders/BELGA

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