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11 Dec 2013 | by Lisa Cockerill

Programs for Learner drivers In Queensland

In 2012 there were 279 fatalities on Queensland roads. In 2013 we are seeing the numbers of road fatalities grow throughout the year on the news and always comparing it to the year before. As we watch the tally increase there is always hope that there will be less this year than the last and the devastation of exceeding the tally of year before is felt by all Queenslanders. Many of those fatalities are young drivers. Lack of experience, over confidence and just pushing the limits of their vehicle has resulted in too many young lives lost.


Everyone knows someone who lost their lives in road accidents; many teenagers will experience this at a young age from their own peer group.


Peer pressure plays a significant part especially with other youth in the vehicle. Pressuring the driver to impress the fellow passengers in their driving skills and ability to drive at high speeds.


Members of South East Queensland communities have felt that they can do more to prevent these accidents through education and support.


Organisations that are making a difference like BRAKE Driver Awareness are educating young drivers on how to be road safe.


Police Officer, Sargent Rob Duncan was fed up with holding the hands of young drivers while they passed away in the wreckages on Queensland’s roads. He founded BRAKE Driver Awareness to reduce the road toll because he felt that he was too late when attending the accident. The problem needed to be solved before the driver gets into the car.


He encourages parents to still get into the passenger seat even when their teenager has their P Plates as often as possible. It is normal for the P Plater to revel in their new found freedom and drive alone or with friends but the more time they spend with a more experienced driver the more they will continue learning.


The classes are targeted to year 11 students to educate them about the dangers on the roads they are not taught about on their license tests. Things like wildlife, kangaroos, stopping distances when travelling on dirt roads.


There are insurance companies in the past and present that have encouraged young drivers to take a defensive driving course as an incentive to lower their insurance payments. Some courses have the driver bring their own vehicle to show how long it actually takes to stop in their own vehicle.


The driver is instructed to drive the vehicle at 60kms per hour in a straight line towards a set of safety cones. When they are in line with the cones they have to slam on the brakes of their vehicle to a complete stop. They turn the vehicle off and step out of the vehicle to observe how far it took the car to come to a complete stop from the cones.


The notion is carried out again but this time at 40kms per hour. This gives the driver a real life perspective on how speed plays a huge difference in stopping distances and it just isn’t something that they are reading in a test.


The theory sessions tend to be more involved with an instructor who engages the participants and who tests their knowledge. This hands on approach is beneficial to the drivers as they are able to apply what they know, what they have then learned immediately in their own vehicle they are driving every day.


Another organisation that has become actively involved in reducing the death toll among young drivers is Braking The Cycle.


The organisation, initiated by Samantha Wilson (Local Employment Co-ordinator) and Maria Griffin, (Employment Project Officer) when they were trying to find a solution to the issue of learner drivers who didn’t have access to vehicles and experienced drivers.


Being in the employment industry they realised that the lack of drivers licence on the applicants resume was detrimental to their chances of finding employment. Up-skilling them in this area are going to greatly increase the chances for employment.


Without the funds of paying for private lessons it is very difficult for that driver to get the knowledge and experience they must have before going onto the roads on their own.


Learner drivers based in Ipswich and Logan areas now have the opportunity to have access to both cars and driving mentors who can help them meet their mandatory 100 hours of driving required.


The success of the program is significant being that since mid-2102 when the project started over 200 disadvantaged young people have logged 6500 hours towards their licences with much thanks to the 90 volunteer mentors.


The flow on effects from this across the community is not only for safer drivers on the road but the opportunity to reduce unemployment among the youth in these communities by have a drivers licence.


There are many members of community often look for ways to volunteer to help others. This program allows people to give back and to such a great and needy cause, which really will be braking the cycle.


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