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LTSA Welcomes New Driver Education Scheme

National Road Safety Committee welcomes new driver education scheme

New Zealand's top road safety advisory panel has welcomed the Government's announcement of a new education initiative encouraging New Zealanders to keep their driving knowledge 'up to scratch'.

From March 2004 all drivers will receive road safety scratch tests with vehicle licensing reminders, driver licence renewals and warrant of fitness inspections.

While completing the tests will be voluntary, by answering the questions correctly drivers will be able to enter ongoing draws for road safety prizes, including new cars with five star crash test safety ratings and other safety-related prizes.

The National Road Safety Committee (NRSC) says the 'Up to Scratch' programme will give drivers a material incentive to refresh their knowledge of New Zealand road rules and general safe driving information.

The NRSC is comprised of Police Commissioner Rob Robinson, Director of Land Transport Safety David Wright, Transit New Zealand Chief Executive Robin Dunlop, ACC Chief Executive Garry Wilson, Secretary for Transport Alastair Bisley, Transfund New Zealand Chief Executive Wayne Donnelly and Local Government New Zealand CEO Eugene Bowen.

NRSC Chairman David Wright said while several education programmes have been put in place targeting specific groups like novice drivers, older drivers and unlicensed drivers, many drivers can hold their licence for more than 60 years with no incentive to keep their knowledge of the road code up to date.

NRSC Up to Scratch two of two

"This initiative aims to change that situation. Nearly 10 million contacts are made with New Zealanders every year related to warrants of fitness, vehicle licensing and driver licensing - and until now none of these contacts have been used to promote knowledge of the road rules or road safety. By using those contacts to provide educational material we have the potential to reach most New Zealand drivers several times a year. Most people will have between four and six opportunities to complete the scratch tests and enter prize draws every year."

Participating in Up to Scratch will not be a simple matter of sending in an entry form. To be eligible for major prizes participants will have to answer at least nine out of ten questions correctly. Six questions will relate to the road code and four to specific road safety risks like drink-driving. The tests will come with background information and will also point drivers to source material like the New Zealand Road Code or the LTSA website to find answers to test questions.

"Completing the test with a 90% score will require people to think about the questions and do a bit of homework to find the answers. If you want to win a new car, you'll have to earn it by brushing up on the road rules," Mr Wright said.

Road safety education is a key element of the Government's strategy to reduce annual road deaths to no more than 300 and hospitalisations to no more than 4,500 by 2010, along with road engineering and police enforcement.

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