A Whangarei driving programme, which has been turning out skilled, young drivers for three years, is in need of more volunteer instructors.

People Potential launched its Driving Mentoring Programme in 2015 in partnership with other local businesses. It is aimed at 16-24-year-olds who don't have access to registered vehicles or mentors, and has produced around 200 restricted licensees.

However, demand is increasing – last year the Whangarei-based education services provider turned out 85 restricted licence holders alone, and a further 16 students gained their full licence.

Says People Potential managing director Andrea Ross: "We are passionate about helping our students get their drivers licence. This is a huge undertaking - one we couldn't do without the support of our volunteer mentor drivers and the support of Road Safe Northland.


"We would love more mentors from the community to help us as so many of our students don't have access to warranted cars or people to teach them how to drive."

Although initial sponsorship of the programme has dropped over the years, People Potential has continued to remove as many barriers as possible to help young people obtain their licences, including an allocated car, trained mentors and, more recently, a car simulator.

"While the simulator is not going to replace any driving practice, it is fabulous for people who have never been in the driver's seat before," comments Andrea.

It is recommended that learner drivers undertake 120 hours of practise before sitting their restricted licence.

The programme contributes toward 30 of these and includes several driving lessons with AA and about two hours a week with a mentor.

"The trainee driver programme gives young people the chance for better jobs and more independence by allowing them to get their restricted licence," Andrea says.

"When someone gets their licence, they experience success and, sometimes for people, it is their first taste of success. A licence can be a barrier to work so it is an essential life skill, especially in Northland where our public transport system is limited."

Larry Webb has been a driver instructor at People Potential since the course began and says he loves teaching the students. "Being able to help them get their restricted is a privilege."

Volunteers must have held their full licence for two years and will need to be patient, open-minded, non-judgemental, knowledgeable and enthusiastic.