Youth driver awareness education program returns

More than 1,600 young drivers aged between 15 and 24 have died in the past five years in Australia, according to Youthsafe, and drivers in that age group are some of the most at risk on the road due to inexperience behind the wheel.

Schools are more and more getting involved to keep our youth safe by running the Road Safety Youth Driver Awareness (RYDA) driver education program, which takes high school students through a mix of practical demonstrations as well as talks from different people on how to be safe on the road.

The program started after four teenage boys were killed in a car driven by an inexperienced P plater, and the local St Ives Rotary Club decided to create the program to try and avoid something like that happening again.

The program focuses on targeting the attitude and awareness of young drivers to help stop road fatalities and injuries in young motorists.

Gorokan High School, St Peters Catholic College, TLK Youth College, Northlakes Grammar and St Brigid’s Catholic College have already participated in the program this year with positive feedback from the schools, their students and their parents.

“The program has been running on the Coast for a few years now, and the schools always respond well to the program.

“We still have a few schools lined up on the Coast, some which were meant to already have participated, but due to the weather we have had to reschedule,” said RYDA co-ordinator Tracey Grinter.

Wadalba Community School and Central Coast Sports High School will be participating in the program on May 20.

The program uses evidence based road safety education that supports building a positive road safety culture by showing live demonstrations of braking distances under different conditions, as well as lessons and talks from police officers and crash survivors on how to be a safer driver, and a safer passenger in a car.

The lessons focus on different factors that are usually present in youth car accidents such as speeding, drugs and alcohol, distracted driving, seatbelts and fatigue.

“We don’t use shock tactics, we provide students with facts and knowledge to allow them to make better, and more informed decisions behind the wheel,” Grinter said.

“COVID-19 was a bit of a hit to the program as we use venues to host the program, so we’ve had to adjust the program slightly to make it work under current circumstances.” she said.

The program is free to students at participating schools.

Harry Mulholland