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Monday, 7 November 2005
Page: 55

Mr HAYES (3:56 PM) —Every driver should strive to be the best driver they can possibly be. That is not only for their sake but for the sake of everybody else on the road. Coming into the season when the national road toll makes nightly news, it is important that some thought is given to how we might continue to cut the road toll. For this reason, I would support the development of an education scheme for the youngest drivers in our community so that good skills and sound habits could be learnt from day one.

Those in the 17- to 20-year-old age bracket are three times more likely than drivers aged 21 and over to be involved in serious car crashes. Young drivers are also at the greatest risk of dying in a road crash. While they hold approximately 16 per cent of licences, unfortunately they account for 28 per cent of vehicle crashes. This is a telling statistic, which in part explains the estimated $15 billion that motor vehicle accidents cost our community annually, which is an essential basis of this motion. This is a staggering statistic and one that needs to be addressed.

Inexperience, it seems, is the key contributing factor to crashes. I am pleased to be able to report to the House that efforts are being made to address the issue of adequate young driver training. One local initiative currently under way in the Macarthur region is being delivered by volunteers and funded by Rotary. Through this scheme, young drivers are steered down the right path by people such as retired police sergeant Ray James, who volunteers his time to teach some of the skills, tips and tricks that he learned as a New South Wales police officer. I would like to recognise and congratulate volunteers like Ray and the people at Rotary for developing and implementing this scheme that is being delivered through schools in the Macarthur region.

The NRMA is also making a contribution to young driver training though its new Safer Driving Education Centre and the release of its new Safer Driving DVD. The NRMA’s Safer Driving Education Centre is now equipped with two new simulators—half Volkswagen Golfs, to be exact—to give young L-plate drivers the feel of what it is like to drive on the road. The technology involved in these simulators is the type that is being used for training astronauts and pilots, so the experience, as I understand it, is quite realistic.

The centre also has a number of full-time professional instructors using dual-control Golfs so that once learner drivers graduate from a simulator they can directly translate their experiences onto the road in a vehicle which they are familiar with. While the centre provides practical experience, the DVD produced by NRMA allows a number of key messages to be reinforced before young drivers even get on the road. These are important tips that parents may forget when teaching their children how to drive—important tips that may help cut our road toll.

These two groups realised how important it was to have young drivers trained correctly. The government was willing to make promises about young driver education during the election campaign, and now it is time to deliver. The details of the scheme of course need to be negotiated between the relevant state government driver licensing and education authorities, but a real effort has to be made. I am sure that I am not alone in hearing stories about how bad some drivers are. These days TV programs are even made about how silly some people are on the road.

With those sorts of experiences in mind and with the knowledge that, as Rotary and the NRMA have shown, it is possible to deliver effective programs to young drivers, it is about time that these models were used to develop programs that can deliver training to more young drivers. Every driver—even those who are cautious drivers—knows that it does not take much to get into trouble on the road. If, through a national education program, young drivers can be instilled with good driving habits from day one, there is a chance that we might see a greater reduction in our national road toll.