Driving with west coast learners
Statistics tell us that 57% of fatalities and serious crashes in Tasmania occur on regional roads, compared to 43% on urban roads. Does living in a regional area of Tasmania present a new variety of challenges for learner drivers?
Do you live outside of the city? Or maybe you have a friend or cousin that lives in a rural town away from the city, and they’re starting their learning to drive journey. Given many professional driver trainers are based in city areas, a big hurdle for regional learner drivers is accessing on road experience with trained driving instructors. How would you go about making sure you’re learning the current road rules and safest driving techniques if you lived hours away from the closest driver training instructor? Learning how to drive can be challenging enough without adding in this extra hurdle.
With the support of the Motor Accidents Insurance Board (MAIB the Injury Prevention and Management Foundation), RACT are piloting a bespoke regional learner driver education program at Smithton High School, St Marys District School and Mountain Heights School to support regional Tasmanian learner drivers. The first part of the program involves professional driver trainers visiting students in their home town and facilitating driving lessons. Recently we visited students at Mountain Heights School in Queenstown.
To help enhance their driving skills and knowledge, the Mountain Heights School students experienced multiple driving lessons in their local area. Paul Harding, Principal, Mountain Heights School advised, “Many of our families come from a background where support to gain a driver’s licence and appropriate training is not available.” The regional learner driver education program aims to better prepare learner driver students for solo driving, and also help to reduce the amount of young drivers involved in crashes on Tasmanian regional roads.
Mountain Heights School students also got to experience an urban based driver training lesson with different road safety challenges in the city of Burnie. Given the new environment, the city landscape had additional encounters including traffic lights and a heightened quantity of road users which further prepared students for experiences that are less prevalent in Queenstown.
The final part of the regional driver education program included facilitating classroom based presentations centred on road safety knowledge to both students and their supervisory drivers. The complimentary presentations help to ensure both learner drivers and supervisory drivers are learning accurate information together. Through this experience, the students were exposed to a variety of responsibilities to be aware of when driving, including registration and car servicing, tips about buying a car and the positive changes to the Graduated Licensing System.
The intended outcome of the regional learner driver education program is centred on reducing the risk of crashes for young drivers on the road. Through providing professional guidance for both learner drivers and their supervisor, and learner driver experience in both regional and urban environments we hope to achieve this objective for the benefit of the wider Tasmanian community.