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LTSA and ACC team up to help novice drivers

For immediate release Practice programme one of two
30 April 2003

LTSA and ACC team up to help novice drivers

It's often said that practice makes perfect, and a new practice driving programme could reduce road crashes by as much as 30 percent in the mishap-prone 15-to-19 age group.

Last year there were 47 fatal crashes and 414 serious injury crashes involving 15 to 19-year-old drivers on New Zealand roads. These crashes resulted in 50 deaths and 518 serious injuries.

In an effort to reduce these numbers the Land Safety Transport Authority and the Accident Compensation Corporation are teaming up to promote a major new novice driver education initiative.

The programme, simply called Practice, encourages young drivers who have recently passed their learner licence test to undertake at least two hours of supervised driving per week - with an ultimate goal of 120 hours of supervised driving practice.

"That extra experience can make a huge difference to the way new drivers perform behind the wheel," says LTSA Education Manager Michael Cummins.

"International research indicates that increasing on-road driving practice in the learner phase can have a big impact on reducing crash risk."

Research also suggests that driving supervisors (usually parents), need encouragement to maintain a set number of hours of supervised driving each and every week. Typically, a young driver in New Zealand only gets around 20 hours of supervised driving in total.

Under the Practice programme, new learner drivers will be encouraged to sign up to a structured programme of supervised driving.

When they do, they and their nominated supervisor will be sent a planning pack including an interactive CD-ROM to help establish a training schedule and develop their driving skills.

"Getting the keys to the car is a step on the way to adulthood for most young people," says ACC programme manager Bill Robertson. "But it is a rite of passage that can kill or maim, with young drivers heavily over-represented in crash and injury statistics."

At the end of 2001, ACC had 199 active motor vehicle account claims from people in the 15-19 age group.

"The cost of those claims is staggering," Mr Robertson says. "Over their lifetime – in some cases the rest of the claimant's life -- they will cost ACC in the vicinity of $345 million."

"At the current cost of a claim, we can expect a two-for-one dollar return on our investment in the Practice programme."


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