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Mentor programme to remove barriers for budding drivers

Mentor programme to remove barriers for budding drivers

The NZ Transport Agency and Gisborne District Council are welcoming a new mentor programme to help young drivers seeking their restricted licence. The programme, which is being funded by the NZ Transport Agency, was launched today in Gisborne.

Transport Agency group manager access and use Celia Patrick says Nga Ara Pai, the Community Driver Mentor Programme address issues of disadvantage for learner drivers in the 16–24 age group seeking to get their restricted licences, such as access to suitable vehicles, mentors and driving practice.

“Overseas research suggests that learner drivers should practise driving as much as possible before they start to drive alone. They should also practise driving in a wide range of driving conditions and situations.

“But getting this practice can be easier said than done, and some learner drivers need support to get this time and experience under their belt.”

Ms Patrick says there are a number of young drivers in the Gisborne region who have less than ideal access to driving practice, such as those living in rural areas, without access to a licenced vehicle, or without an appropriate experienced driver to supervise them during practice. The programme will help to remove those barriers, she said.

She says the programme is a pilot, and if successful, it could be extended to other regions.

Gisborne District Council road safety coordinator Lenora McDonald has coordinated the launch of the programme in the Gisborne. “It is good to see our whole community come together on such an important initiative. A number of mentors have already put their hands up and the Ministry of Social Development staff have been discussing the programme with their clients.”

At the launch Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon said “I am totally supportive of this programme. Things have changed since when I got my licence. Cars are more powerful and the statistics show we need to do more with our young people to keep them safe.”

“Having a mature person sit alongside when our young people are in the driver’s seat has got to be a good move. It’s a different relationship than mum or dad sitting in the car with their kids. Mum or dad might growl. Our volunteers won’t. I hope they will develop lifelong relationships with the young people they will be spending at least 30 hours with. The mentors will be making a big difference in their lives. The first question many employers ask is “Do you have a drivers licence? We want your young people to be able to answer ‘yes I do’.

After stirring waiata and haka from Te Kura o Manutuke kapa haka group, Inspector Sam Aberahama from Gisborne police said at the launch “If this is the future of Tairawhiti we are heading in the right direction.”

“Nga Ara Pai means ‘good pathway', a good pathway to achieve your driver’s licence. That’s what Gisborne Police staff, who have put their hands up to be a mentor, will be doing. They will support young learner drivers from the beginning until they are successful. Rangatahi are over represented in our road accidents and we need to reduce this.”

Inspector Aberahama was proud to be part of initiative that will empower young people. “Twenty Gisborne Police staff have put their hands up to be mentors. I am one of those. I have put my hand up not as a boss but as a member of the community wanting to volunteer. I want to make a difference in the life of the young people I mentor.”

Gisborne’s young Tongan community will be one group that will benefit from the Nga Ara Pai – Community Driver Mentor - initiative that was launched in Gisborne this week. Karauria Ruru is the Whanau Ora Navigator at Kaiti School.

“Kaiti School has a large Tongan community. Many members of the community have had difficulty achieving their drivers licence because of the language barrier. Many don’t feel comfortable or confident to attempt it. This restricts their employment opportunities and makes getting around the district a financial burden that affects the whole family.”

“When I heard about the Nga Ara Pai programme I could see that this would be a big step in moving these families forward. Three Tongan mentors have joined the programme and have started their mentor training.”

Viliami Haupeakui is one of those mentors. ”I am happy to volunteer my time as I can see that helping our young people achieve their licence is the key to making them self reliant. I am looking forward to mentoring Tongan and other youth through this process.”

The Transport Agency and Gisborne District Council are grateful for the support of Chevron New Zealand, who have provided valuable sponsorship for the programme, and the Automobile Association.

Who is involved in the Community Driver Mentor Programme?

Community organisations identify learner drivers and mentors from amongst their own networks.

Gisborne’s Passrite Driving Academy will coordinate the drivers and mentors and over see the running of the programme.

The Mentors themselves are not driving instructors but act as coaches supervising a range of practise driving experiences. They talk with the learner drivers to help them learn to think about their driving, how they need to manage the vehicle, and target what they need to practise.

The AA undertakes 3 driving lessons for each learner driver at useful points in each of their programmes, identifying areas the learner needs to focus on, and also delivers a session for the mentors themselves before they start the programme.

Chevron New Zealand, which markets the Caltex brand, is supporting the programmes by sponsoring all of the fuel used in the lessons. In addition they are enthusiastically supporting the programme corporately by encouraging their own staff and Caltex franchise holders to become mentors.

The Transport Agency supports the overall programme via the Community Road Safety Fund and with AA, has an overview role.

But ultimately it is the Learner Drivers who are the most important people in the whole programme. For them, this programme is a life changing event.

Role of Mentors

• Mentors are not driving instructors but act as coaches supervising a range of practise driving experiences for a total of 30 hours per learner driver

• Mentors receive training to help them supervise effectively

During supervised practice hours mentors will focus on the ways new drivers can:

• overcome risky impulses and attitudes to driving

• work on their personal skills and attitudes to planning safe trips

• aim to recognise and master difficult driving conditions.

Additional Learning resources we refer to

The Transport Agency driving skills syllabus www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadcode/driving-skill-syllabus/

the Practice website www.practice.co.nz

the Transport Agency factsheet ‘Learning to drive: Getting your car licence’ www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/factsheets/45/learning-to-drive.html

The official New Zealand road code www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/roadcode/index.html

information from the AA on ‘Helping your teen buy their first car’ www.aa.co.nz/motoring/aa-torque/motoring-blog/buying-selling/helping-your-teen-buy-their-first-car/


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