Road safety advocates have called for defensive driving courses to be a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
Rotorua District Council road safety co-ordinator Jodie Lawson said the carnage on her region's roads required government action. "We've got a community in shock and reeling from the recent tragedies," she said.
"Ultimately, what we need is for road safety and road skills courses to be made a compulsory element of education."
Lawson said local school principals had requested training for pupils since the recent accidents but such a scheme should be funded from central government.
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The Automobile Association said yesterday it would be happy to extend its defensive driving programme into every school in the country.
The nine-hour course includes one hour driving with a professional instructor. With 47,247 Year 13 students nationally, and a $165 cost each student, the total cost implementing the plan would be only $7.8 million.
But Transport Minister Steven Joyce balked at the cost and called the proposal "simplistic". He said he agreed young people needed improved skills but "if we had $8 million to spare, we would spend it in different ways".
Joyce said the Government was planning to make the driving test more difficult, forcing young people to practise more before being granted their licence.
Labour Party transport spokesman Darren Hughes said Joyce, who as minister is overseeing $3 billion of road construction, had his spending priorities wrong. Hughes said driving courses should be compulsory.