History: In 2011, fifty school children and two prominent media personalities of Bangladesh were killed in separate incidents of road crashes. The events spurred nationwide outcry and prompted the government to convene an emergency meeting of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) in that year. Considering the dismal state of drivers training in the country, the meeting came to conclude that BRAC among other organisations, in joint collaboration with Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), will train driving instructors and provide road safety training to in-service drivers.
BRAC Driving School was launched in 2012 as a feasible measure to tackle the alarming increase of road fatalities over the years. BRAC commissioned Hubert Ebner (India) Pvt Ltd to prepare training materials and conduct the Training of Trainers (TOT) for the driving trainers recruited by BRAC. The school uses contemporary driving training technologies such as, driving simulators, visual impairment system, and P-Drive (digital driving testing device) to train the students.
BRAC Driving School primarily has two training programmes which are Shurakkha (defensive driving training) for commercial vehicle drivers and basic driving for the general public. Besides, the programme took up a project called Four Wheels To Freedom which trained 75 professional female chauffeurs to provide them with an income generation tool.
Driver's training for women
Women empowerment is deeply rooted in BRAC's values and is also reflected through BRAC Driving School. The project 'Four Wheels to Freedom' was initiated with the target to include women in driving profession and to provide an income generation skill to poor, disadvantaged women who would otherwise spend their life managing their households.
Under the project, a total of 75 women chauffeurs were trained through a two-month long residential training. After completion, they were presented with BRTA approved professional driving licenses, and today they are employed at reputed INGOs, MNCs, banks and other institutions in Bangladesh.
Shurakkha - defensive driving training
As the 2012 NRTA report stated, 1263 fatal road accidents saw the involvement of heavy vehicles on that year. The highways of Bangladesh see a major proportion of vehicular accidents that involve buses, goods carriers, human haulers and other types of heavy transport.
No matter how safe the vehicles or the vigilance of the general people, road safety cannot be achieved without driver’s training, skill and right attitude to drive safely. In light of this, BRAC Road Safety Programme introduced Shurakkha - a training targeted towards in-service commercial bus and truck drivers, majority of whom have not been through institutional driving training. It is common in Bangladesh where such drivers receive their training through apprenticeship from another experienced but uncertified driver. As a result, most of these drivers, although performing at professional capacity, are unaware of the many road safety rules and practices. This training is also fully residential.
"The fuel consumption of the vehicles dropped by 30 per cent after our drivers took this training." - Mohammad Faruk Talukder Sohel (second from right), managing director, Shohagh Paribahan
"I've been driving professionally for ages but had no idea that there are so many things to consider while driving. Had I received this training earlier, I'd have been more careful." - Md. Abdus Sobhan, truck driver
"Once I fell asleep while driving and crashed into a roadside public event killing some people. Through this training I realised the importance of proper resting before driving." - Md. Ataur Rahman, truck driver
"I was involved in an accident where I collided with an auto-rickshaw and its driver passed away. All this time I believed it wasn't my fault. After the training, I understood that the cargo wasn't properly fastened to my truck. So, my truck took more distance to stop which resulted in the accident." - Md. Faisal Khondoker, truck driver
"I used to think that the white marks on the road bore no significance. From this training I understood what they mean. We must not overtake and drive on the other side." - Md. Monir, mini-bus driver
Basic driving training
Since November 2012, BRAC Driving School made its basic driving training facilities accessible for all. Anyone interested to take proper driving lessons under expert guidance are encouraged to get enrolled.
Training conducted with the P-Drive system
- Twelve days of residential Training of Instructors (TOI) for instructors of private driving training schools
- Thirty five days of non-residential basic driving training for all to obtain both professional and non-professional driving license
- Modern driving simulator
- Visual impairment system
- Seatbelt convincer
- Dual controlled training vehicles
Training of instructors
BRAC's monitoring department carried out a survey about the state of driving schools and driving instructors in the country, with the following findings. There were 362 driving training schools and 418 driving instructors in Bangladesh in 2012. Of these instructors, less than 108 had a legally required instructors license. BRAC Driving School introduced this training to fill the gap in terms of improving the quality of driving instructors in the country.
The school ensures that the trainee driving instructors know everything in order to conduct driving training: basic knowledge on driving, knowledge on road safety, and how to transfer their knowledge to their trainees. Driving instructors learn various tools, techniques and methods from this training.
These are some remarks on the training by former trainees:
“According to me, all the trainers of the entire country should do this course. If I didn’t receive this training, I would not have known that there is such a great training facility in Bangladesh.” – Al – Haj Mohammad Nurul Islam, trainer
“This course of BRAC is extraordinary. If this course is continued, it could bring about positive change in the professional driving arena of Bangladesh.” – SM Alamgir Hossain Babul, trainer
“The equipments they used and the training we received were marvelous. I think every trainer needs this type of training.” – Md. Salim Reza, trainer
“This type of training should be given to us once every year. My entire attitude has changed after coming here, thanks to BRAC.” – Md. Moshur Alam, trainer
“There is nothing more to say about this course, because it already is outstanding. I would like to say that the management should think about increasing the duration of this course to 15 days.” – AKM Fazlul Haque, trainer
BRAC Driving School signed an MOU with BRTA whereby trainees upon completion of the TOI training at the school can receive a driving instructors license from BRTA. Trainees of the course are taught in batches numbering 16 to 20 drawing resource persons from outside. Duration of this residential course is 12 days.