Top award for youth driver course

By Emily Norman -
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Makoura College students attended Wairarapa's Rotary Youth Driver Awareness Programme in February. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Makoura College students attended Wairarapa's Rotary Youth Driver Awareness Programme in February. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

A joint initiative between Wairarapa Rotary clubs and Wairarapa Road Safety Council to teach vital driving skills to young people has been recognised as a "gold standard" example throughout Australasia.

Having taught vital driving skills to 1300 Year 12 students over the past three years, Wairarapa's Rotary Youth Driver Awareness (RYDA) programme encourages young drivers and passengers to devise a strategy to allow them to make safe choices on Wairarapa roads.

Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling said the Australasian Gold Standard Community Road Safety Programme Award would be presented to Wairarapa Rotary clubs and the Road Safety Council next month to acknowledge their successful collaborative approach to road safety.

"Teaching our youth how to make safe choices on our roads is particularly important in Wairarapa because we have had some devastating fatalities involving young drivers," Mr Pauling said.

"It is a tragic occurrence whenever there is a young driver death. It causes this horrible ripple effect for families who suffer terribly, friends, wider family, the community, and so this programme is run to stop those deaths and serious injuries with our young Wairarapa drivers."

Wairarapa's RYDA programme consists of six interactive workshops that cater to all Year 12 Wairarapa students each February.

The sessions cover the topics of stopping distances, hazards and distractions, rights and responsibilities after the crash, a personality test, and Genevieve's Story - "a video about a tragic fatal crash where a young lady on her restricted licence lost her life".

"The feedback is just fantastic from teachers, parents, and the students who have attended the programme," Mr Pauling said.

"It's been a great collaboration between us, Rotary, police, and our marvellous facilitators who put their heart and soul into it - they're very passionate about road safety particularly with young drivers."

Rotary spokeswoman for RYDA Val Ball said although the youth involved in the programme do not get to physically drive a vehicle in the programme, they learn vital skills.

"They also learn about the biggest thing that youth of today are not aware of, and that is the consequences of actions," she said.

"For me this is the greatest thing that the RYDA programme provides youth, to think about consequences and to know that their actions don't just affect them, but it actually affects an awful lot of people in different realms of the community.

"When one road death happens through careless driving, there are so many people, the parents, the teachers, the other pupils, the grandparents, the families, police, witnesses. There are so many people affected by one act of stupidity."

Awards will be presented to various Wairarapa organisations by Road Safety Education CEO and New Zealand programme co-ordinator Terry Birse on July 19 at the Copthorne Hotel in Masterton.

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