"We have been warning all the relevant ministries and authorities of anarchy in driving schools for almost fifteen years, but officials and ministers keep explaining the options, and why it was impossible to act," complain the members of the Driving School Association which is a member of the Chamber of Commerce of Slovenia.
"The legislation on legal security is not bad, but it remains on the paper only. In practice the work goes on as in 1980," says Brane Lotrič, who was the head of the Association from 1999 to 2012. They have been warning for almost 15 years of insufficient supervision of driving schools, where they still give their students too much theoretical knowledge, and too little practice.
From Zgaga to Omerzel
He substantiated his words, together with the present head of the Association Martin Miklavc, with extensive documentation consisting of memorandums from the year 2000 on, from the time driving school were still under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and the Minister Pavel Zgaga.
Already at that time they tried to draw attention to unfair competition, as the only measure of competitiveness was the price: those who didn't pay taxes, or who worked illegaly, i.e. without declaring their income, were able to keep lower prices. They received no answer. When the schools accepted the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior (MNZ), the then Minister Rado Bohinc gave to the representatives of the Association only a curt reply not to teach him his trade, but nothing happened.
Mate was the first to listen
The first who listened to what the Association founded in 1999 within the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) had to say was the Minister of the Interior Dragutin Mate. "There was some progress, but not enough," Lotrič remembers the ignominious history of sweeping the problems with driving schools under the carpet.
The Ministry of Public Administration did no better; they even wrote the reasons the necessary changes could not be enforced. The answer they received from MNZ 2010 about the problems with training new drivers claimed everything was as it should be. In 2011 they warned Patrik Vlačič, the then Minister of Transport, of the insufficient supervision. The electronic address at the Agency for Traffic Safety to which information on inadequate training were supposed to be sent had never worked.
Should the Association report the irregularities?
"Each government wrote the Traffic Law as its own monument, but remained deaf to our appeals, while we have been asking for 15 years for somebody to oversee us," said Lotrič. The Association refuses its responsibility for not reporting fraud at acquiring driving licences, and does not wish to point at anyone. They are convinced others are competent for 'irregularities' – traffic inspectors, ministries, and the agency.
Martin Miklavc still admits that "self-purification is a must" and that "there is no room in our Association for those to whom the fraud would be proved legally". But he declines the possibility to publish publicly a list of driving schools with suspicious practices, and thus protect those who obey the law. There was a lot of rumour that it was possible to obtain a driving licence in a corruptive manner, until the Police informed the public of the investigation.