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Efforts to Bring Maori Youth Road Toll Down Welcomed

EFFORTS TO BRING MAORI YOUTH ROAD TOLL DOWN WELCOMED

New Zealand Firsts recent announcement on road safety and an investment in youth road safety education in particular is welcomed by Road Safety Education. (2)

While the Rt. Hon Winston Peter’s motivation is to reduce first offences for Maori - 6 are for driving without a license.

“What’s worse than receiving a conviction is that this lack of road safety education oftentimes has fatal consequences” says NZ Road Safety Programme Manager, Maria Lovelock.

Māori have one of the highest rates of road deaths and this is particularly high amongst 16 to 24-year-olds. (1)

Our youth road toll is overrepresented generally. Last year it accounted for 24% of the 319 road fatalities yet youth only represent 15% of the population overall.

“Driver licensing provides basic training on road safety but our independent research proves they need more” says Lovelock.

In 2012 RSE embarked on a ground breaking study to measure the social and economic value created by their RYDA programme in terms of impact primarily on participating students. This unprecedented Social Impact Study was released earlier this month.

The RYDA programme is an interactive one-day learning programme for senior high school students that aims to change the way young people think and act on the road - not only as drivers but also passengers and make better decisions.

Last year over 5,000 teenagers throughout New Zealand graduated from the programme and over 40,000 have been through it over the past 9 years.

Alarmingly, the four-year study revealed significant knowledge gaps in driver training, in the lead up to gaining a driver’s license, contributed to a combined cost of crashes for New Zealand and Australia of $6 billion dollars.

The social and personal impact of these crashes though, is immeasurable.

The gaps in student knowledge that were identified involved critical road safety issues such as the relationship between speed and braking and the greatly increased risk of crashing when carrying one or more same-age passengers.

“Given the enormity of this cost to society, the prevention of trauma on the road represents a vital public policy priority to both New Zealand and Australia and Winston Peter’s efforts to curb this carnage are praised across the ditch” said Road Safety Education Limited CEO/Managing Director, Terry Birrs from their Sydney Head Office.

“This welcome engagement in the road safety conversation comes on the back of the Queensland government’s decision to fund $750,000 over 3 years, enabling many more students from Queensland secondary schools to participate in the RYDA programme” says Birrs.

Road Safety Education in New Zealand relies heavily on the support of our New Zealand corporate sponsors to achieve this end - BOC, NZ Steel, BOSCH, Bridgestone, The Alexander Group and community partner Rotary so that costs are reduced for students to attend RYDA.

“We would love to see all New Zealand secondary school students given the same opportunities as many of their Australian counterparts l have” says Birss.

The RSE Social Impact Study reports a dramatic increase in student knowledge once they had participated in the RYDA program with a 121% increased awareness in speed/braking distances and a 113% jump in awareness of the risk of crashing when carrying same age passengers.

Participation in RYDA also produced some very significant increases in student’s recognition of the risks associated with the use of mobile phones when driving with a 96% increase in student knowledge of reaction times and a 38% improved awareness of the cognitive effects of talking on a hands-free mobile phone.

“These results emphatically demonstrate there are major gaps in general youth driver knowledge when going for a driver’s license,” said Mr Birss.

There are many factors which influence driver behaviour in the 17–24 age group, including inexperience, greater risk taking, impulsiveness and distraction, sleep patterns, peer influence, unsafe cars, driving at high risk times and heightened optimism. The RYDA Program recognises these many issues and focuses on cognitive development through a risk awareness program.

Students participating in RYDA come away with the knowledge and a range of strategies on how to protect themselves, their family and friends. Importantly RYDA students have the opportunity to reflect on long term consequences of a crash and to recognise why we all need to treat driving as a social responsibility.

“Evidence from the Study supports RYDA’s role in increasing knowledge, skills and attitudinal shift for long term behavioural change.

“RYDA fills an existing gap in Government and community road safety initiatives throughout Australasia” Mr Birss concluded.

"Older drivers will always have advantage over youth on our roads. Youth have more challenges and they don’t have the experience that older drivers have. It's up to us as a community to bridge that gap of inexperience and underdevelopment with as many tools as we can for better planning and decision making. That's what the RYDA programme is all about and it is great to see Winston Peters proposing social policy for all youth” says Lovelock.

REFERENCES

1. http://www.maoritelevision.com/news/regional/new-te-reo-licensing-campaign-aimed-auckland-youth
2. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/83883168/NZ-First-and-Winston-Peters-targeting-the-youth-vote-with-free-tertiary-study-and-drivers-licences
3. http://www.transport.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Research/Documents/young-drivers-2015.pdf

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