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Action needed to cut NZ's alarming road toll

A gap in driver education is a leading contributor to New Zealand’s rising road toll, with young drivers over-represented in the fatalities.

Motorsport icon and Holden Street Smart ambassador Greg Murphy says much more emphasis is needed on improving driving skills, starting with our youngest drivers.

His comments come after 13 people died last week on our roads, bringing the 2018 toll to 260 - tracking close to being the deadliest in nine years.

Greg Murphy says: “Every day we hear about car accidents and fatalities on our roads, so it’s critical we educate drivers about the dangers of getting behind the wheel, as well as helping them to develop the confidence to feel safe on the road.”

The Government has recently announced plans for a year-on-year reduction of the national road toll, focusing on a $16.9 billion spend on the country’s transport system, including a programme of median safety barriers, roadside barriers and rumble strip installments.
Greg is putting his support behind Holden Street Smart, an initiative which is run every school holiday and provides young drivers with challenging exercises in the safest possible manner.

“Improving the road system will reduce some of the risks associated with being on the road by making driving more efficient and safer for all road users. However, these improvements won’t change the driving skills of Kiwis, which is where the focus needs to be. The number of damaged median and roadside barriers on perfectly good and straight roads throughout the country, tells you it’s not just the roads that need attention – cars don’t crash themselves.

“Drivers are still making way too many bad decisions, which in many cases are just because they aren’t aware that they are doing anything wrong. If a driver hasn’t been taught something, then how are they supposed to know?” Murphy says.

Holden Street Smart is a day-long course for young drivers, accompanied by a parent or caregiver, where they are faced with a variety of scenarios, including learning how to avoid head-on collisions, the importance of driving without distractions and keeping a safe following distance. It’s all done under the watchful eye of experienced coaches and is significantly subsidised by Holden to keep the cost as low as possible, at just $49 for the day.

“There is absolutely no doubt that Holden Street Smart is making a difference by providing drivers with better skills and awareness. And it isn’t just young drivers that are learning - the parents and caregivers attending are leaving with new information and a refreshed way of thinking when it comes to driving better and more safely.” Murphy adds.

Since launching in February this year, Holden Street Smart has seen more than 400 young drivers, plus their parent or caregiver, take part in the programme, with overwhelmingly positive feedback.
Vinny McCorkindale, who attended Holden Street Smart with her son in July, says: “It was a very worthwhile day spent in Cromwell with the Holden Street Smart team - not only for the young drivers who took part but also the parents who accompanied them. There was something for everyone and a great opportunity to sharpen up our everyday driving skills in a controlled environment. This course raises everyone's awareness of our responsibilities on the road - a serious message delivered in a professional way. I would recommend this for all drivers as a fun and very beneficial experience.”
Marc Ebolo, Managing Director of Holden New Zealand, says: “Holden is committed to tackling and reducing the New Zealand road toll, which is rising at a worrying rate. Hearing that five people were killed on the road in just one day is an enormous sign that there is a lot of work to be done around education and awareness of road safety.”

“The main purpose of Holden Street Smart is to target the most at-risk group when it comes to accidents and fatalities on the road and it’s young drivers that fall into this category more often than most. We believe this education and hands-on experience will help to change behaviour on the roads in the future.”

Holden Street Smart courses take place during the school holidays at several locations across the country. To find out more, and to book a spot, visit: https://www.holdenstreetsmart.co.nz/

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