The average, well to do families in Malaysia today, own two or three family cars. Do not be surprised that all three of the above cars are automatic ones. All driving schools or institutes in our country are still using manual vehicles. But that does not mean, automatic cars cannot be used.

All along, the disabled or orang kurang berupaya (OKU) can opt to use automatic cars to both learn and test in such cars. The only problem is institutes and driving schools do not possess such vehicles. The only alternative is for disabled or OKU people to purchase their own vehicles. This can be rather costly.

As early as 2011, as a matter of fact, the Road Transport Department (RTD) had announced to the public, that automatic cars were in the process of being introduced into our system of tests. Only recently, the Minister of Transport Datuk Seri, Kong Cho Har said that the department was in the final process of modifying test requirements for automatic vehicles.

It is believed that by the latest, July 2012, driving institutes and driving schools in the country, will see advent of automatic cars in their curriculum.

A driving school colleague of mine, a Mr. Chin, tells me that his institute, which is located in nearby Meru town, 6 miles from Klang town, has already taken steps to purchase a total of 4 new, automatic cars. The above cars have already been sent to the authorities, that is Puspakom, for their initial inspections. Other institutes, all across the country, I believe, are likewise taking similar arrangements in readiness when automatic cars will be introduced soon.

If you ask any 17 year old, who is getting ready to take up driving lessons shortly in which car does he prefer to do his driving tutorials, without a doubt, this instructor strongly believes, 95% of them will answer automatic!

Most students ages 30 and above, especially the female gender, hold the opinions that it is easier to learn how to drive using an automatic vehicle. Is this really so?

This 42 years experienced instructor and my close friend, Mr. Chin, however, hold the belief that things may not appear as easy as it so seems. Another question which should be raised is, will use of automatic vehicles assist in bring down the high rate of frightening accidents which the country seems to be faced with today. Anyway, let’s allow automatic vehicles to be used first and then we will know whether this belief is a truth or a fallacy!

But I would like to remind one and all, that accidents can be prevented with good discipline, obeying road rules and regulations and a host of other good qualities of driving.

A reader of this blog, a Mr. Stark, made a blunt comment recently about Malaysian drivers. He is of the opinion Malaysian drivers do not know how to drive, have no respect for other drivers, drive dangerously and thoughtlessly. I am quite agreeable to Mr. Stark’s views.

Talking about automatic vehicles, which models of cars well most likely be used?

I feel the driving institutes and instructors may most possibly opt for either the Viva or maybe MyVi. The Viva costs around RM38,000 for an auto. The MyVi is costlier around RM55,000 or so.

Some students believe learning in an auto car is easier. Therefore they believe, getting a driving license, with henceforth not be a hassle anymore.

Whether it is easier or not, one thing is for sure. Presently, driving schools charge around RM25 per hour of lessons. With automatic cars, which are costlier to purchase and maintain, price of taking up driving lessons in the near future, may cost anything from RM35 – RM40 per hour of lessons. The total cost of driving lessons lasting 10 hours is currently RM800 – RM900.

With the use of the auto, it is a rough estimate by this instructor, that the total cost for forthcoming driving lessons would be at least be well over RM1000 or so. The public should be ready to face the increase in price.

Permit me to tell you a few things which you may or may not be aware of. “P” students or probationary license holders from henceforth will be provided with a class of driving license known as DA. They will be entitled only to drive automatic vehicles. They will not be allowed to drive manual version vehicles anymore.

Students who may wish to drive vans, small lorries and bas sekolah or school buses, will therefore have to learn how to drive a manual vehicle later on. A bit of hassle, isn’t it? Besides, it might lead to one facing more expenses in the long run.

The stage is now set for the Road Transport Department to implement introducing of automatic into our driving school system. Together, we wait with bated breath its implementation. What will be the result of using automatic vehicles in our country, is left to be seen.