What Is K53? | Driving Licence Test

The K53 Driving Standard

Have you ever asked: What is K53? If you don’t know the answer, then this page is essential reading.



K53 defensive driving standard - narrow street exampleThe K53 Driving Standard is a system of defensive driving that is intended to reduce the risk of having a collision.

The purpose of the system is to keep a clear space around your vehicle at all times in order to avoid colliding with other road users — vehicles, pedestrians and animals. This is achieved by granting others their right to use the road, while at the same time anticipating possible behaviour and actions on their part that might lead to a collision of your vehicle with them, and taking the appropriate action timeously to avoid such a situation.



For Learner’s Licence and K53 Driving Licence candidates

A basic knowledge of the K53 Driving Standard is an item that is included in the South African Learner’s Licence theory test. During the practical Driving Licence test candidates must demonstrate the K53 methods.

If you still have to pass the Driving Licence Test, be aware that the examiner will be watching how you drive throughout the entire test. If you don’t do the necessary observations and other aspects of the K53 Driving Standard during both the Yard Test and the on-road test, you will be penalised accordingly. This could result in your failing the test.


For licenced drivers

To improve driving standards and road safety in South Africa, all licenced drivers should know and apply the K53 driving standard. This page is an essential start if you’re not familiar with what K53 is all about.


Basic elements of the K53 driving standard


1. Search:
Keep a constant look-out for possible hazards ahead, behind you, and to the sides — both nearby and in the distance.

K53 defensive driving standard - driveway reversing exampleKeeping a constant lookout means: observing the situation on the road ahead and to the sides; checking in the rear-view mirror/s every 5 to 8 seconds; checking in the mirrors and blind spot before signalling to move off from the side of the road or changing direction, slowing down and other manoeuvres; and checking again as required.

A potential hazard is anything that could require that you change speed (e.g. slow down, stop suddenly) or change direction (e.g. swerve, change lanes.)

Examples of potential hazards:

  • Pedestrians; animals; moving cyclists, motorcycles, cars, mini-buses, buses, trucks; stationary obstructions and parked vehicles; a ball kicked or thrown by a child, and such-like


2. Identify:
In your mind, quickly identify what kind of hazard it is: Is it stationary? Is it moving or can it move suddenly?


3. Predict:
Quickly predict the kind of dangers the potential hazard might cause, and how that might indicate your needed reaction.


Stationary hazards: Could it prevent you from continuing straight ahead, causing you to have to move into another lane?

  • Would you need to check in your rear-view mirror and blind spot to start signalling now, in preparation to move across?Would you need to come to a complete stop first?

Moving hazards: Could a pedestrian, child or animal suddenly run into the roadway in front of you?

  • What could you do to avoid having to swerve dangerously if that should happen? Hoot? Tap your foot-brake pedal to indicate to drivers behind you that you’re slowing down? Reduce speed?


4. Decide:
Quickly, but without panicking, decide the safest action you should take to ensure safety for all road users.


5. Execute the action:
Carry out your decided actions in a calm, controlled and decisive manner.


As you can imagine, the first four elements in this sequence need to be carried out constantly as you drive along the road; it should be second-nature and virtually an automatic behaviour pattern.


Try some real-life exercises

K53 defensive driving standard - truck about to enter the roadWhether you are a licenced driver, a learner driver, or simply a passenger, make a habit of practising the K53 Defensive Driving Standard in your mind as you move along the roads in South Africa. That way it will all make more sense to you and help to cultivate the habit that experienced and good drivers do automatically.

Next time you hear someone ask, what is K53? – just send them to this Web page. You’ll be helping road safety education in South Africa.


Where to find all the K53 details

The best K53 study manuals include the necessary details for this topic, for both the Learner’s Licence and the Driving Licence tests. The driving licence sections set out exactly the requirements for each manoeuvre as well as the penalty points and the ‘immediate failure’ items for the diving licence test — light and heavy motor vehicles, and motorcycles.


Recommended preparation material

Any one of the following excellent resources will give you all the information you need:

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