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MIL OSI – Source: New Zealand First – Release/Statement

Headline: University

School driving lessons benefit students in many

Compulsory driver’s licence education at
secondary schools is being endorsed by new research from
Massey University on the grounds it will make a big
difference in helping young people get jobs.

Dr Peter
Rawlins, author of the Steering Aotearoa Driving Training
report, says his evaluation of a programme in
Central Hawke’s Bay highlights multiple benefits for
students and their families if formal driver education to
encourage teenagers to get their full licence at school is
made available.

Other key benefits from offering driving
lessons at school include a boost to teens’ sense of
independence and development as responsible adults, as well
as reducing family tensions that can arise when parents are
the main driving instructors.

Providing a structured,
NCEA-credited programme with professional driving
instructors would also equip young people with safe driving
skills and behaviour at a critical age, Dr Rawlins says,
with the notable benefit of helping reduce road crashes,
injuries and death.

Cost is often cited as a major barrier
for many young people in getting a full driver’s licence,
says Dr Rawlins, from the Institute of Education. This can
result in illegal driving and subsequent infringements that
add further costs and complications, including limiting
opportunities in finding work.

School-based drive
education would go a long to preventing this, he says. It
costs $93.90 for a learner’s licence, $134.80 for a
restricted and $109.50 for a full licence.

He presented
his findings to the Mayoral Task Force for Jobs AGM at the
Local Government New Zealand conference in Auckland, which
the task force is part of. They endorsed a remit based on
the research findings to lobby the government to support the
implementation of a free and all-inclusive universal
driver’s licence programme at NCEA level two.

Many rural
mayors are especially keen to see the programme made widely
available because of the challenges young people face in
getting to jobs in rural areas during and beyond their
school years.

Teens behind the

The Steering Aotearoa pilot scheme
came about when Central Hawkes Bay’s Economic Development
Strategy group looked at some of the issues associated with
employment, training and education. The conclusion? – too
many students were leaving high school without a driver’s
licence, which resulted in a major barrier to local

A small working group lead by Kelly Annand,
director of Connecting for Youth Employment, developed a
driver training programme for Central Hawke’s Bay College
in Waipukurau, with the primary aim to give all students the
opportunity to obtain their full driver’s licence before
they left high school.

Twenty students aged 16+ were
selected to be part of the Mayor’s Taskforce for
Jobs-funded pilot, partnering with Massey’s College of
Humanities and Social Sciences, which funded the research
and evaluation report.

At the start of the programme,
students studied the road code and did practice online tests
to sit their learner licence. Students who failed any part
of their licence were given extra support to re-sit until
they passed. During the six months’ they are required to
have a learner licence before they can sit their restricted
licence test, they spent time in the school holidays with
instructors and mentors who taught them the basics of

They then received six one-hour driving lessons
from a professional driving instructor throughout the next
six months, as well as additional 52 hours practice with
mentors (family, friends of family, community volunteers –
including retired police officers and business people). They
also did a nine-hour professional defensive driving course.
All who took part passed their learner’s, restricted and
defensive driving tests and are currently working towards
gaining full licences once the one-year restricted period
was over. Five of the 20 students have left school and gone
on to full time work, and all 20 students will be supported
till the receive their full driver’s licence, says Mrs

To drive, or not to drive?

Rawlins says research indicates that over the last 15 or 20
years, there has been a decline in the driver licence rate
amongst young people, particularly in developed

Reasons given include: a decline in youth
employment, students staying at school longer, an increase
in attendance at tertiary institutions, and an increase in
the age of marriage – all suggesting an extension of
youth, and the delaying of entry into full-time work. Other
factors are “changes to socialisation patterns for young
people, with a reduction in the status of the car, and a
trend towards more online interaction.”

“Put simply,
research suggests that many young people do not see
obtaining a driver licence as an urgent

However, the need for a full driver’s
licence is critical for many living outside main centres
with little or no public transport. Shift work is off-limits
with only a restricted licence, though research shows many
do end up driving illegally to get to work.

of achievement

A number of learner drivers said
that gaining a driver’s licence gave them a strong sense
of achievement. “Some reported that they have had limited
success in their life and so progressing through the GDL
gave them something to be proud of,” Dr Rawlins

Another parent explained how her son’s confidence
had grown saying that: ‘It’s made him more confident
because…he’s a kid that didn’t think he could do
things but he sees now that he can.”

Social media enhancing
driver achievement

The use
of social media helped organise activities as well as
celebrate success. Mrs Annand posted messages via Facebook
to alert parents that their child had a driving practice
session coming up. Students also kept in touch with each
other through other social media platforms – though not
while driving!

Parents too felt that the
use of social media help create a community that encouraged
everyone to succeed. They also felt included and supported
by the programme, says Dr Rawlins, and appreciated the
structured nature of the pilot.

“Some parents were
anxious that they may have picked up ‘bad habits’ and
appreciated having other mentors to ensure that students
learned to drive correctly. Even if they were showing the
student the correct way to drive parents felt that the
messages were often received more effectively if they came
from the professional instructor.”

One of the most
anticipated aspects was that it would increase students’
independence and “reduce the need for parents to act as a
‘taxi service’,” says Dr Rawlins.

Mrs Annand says
she is “extremely proud” of the young people involved
and progress so far.

“We firmly believe that if we could
see driver training in schools it would reduce offending
rates, keep young people in school until they were ready to
leave for employment, set them up to be more employable and
most importantly teach them the importance of safety and
good legal driving practices on our roads.”

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