Lack of Road Safety Education Costing Young Lives
Gap Between Driver Licensing And Road Safety Education Costing Young Lives
Not for profit agency Road Safety Education Limited (RSE) recently released four year social impact study shows that the gap between driver licensing and road safety education is a large contributing factor to the death of youth on New Zealand roads.
Their youth road safety awareness program RYDA, is committed to reducing trauma on our roads by educating senior high school students aged 16-18.
Twenty seven percent of all fatal crashes involve young drivers and crash frequency increases by a factor of thirty in the brief time that a learner driver is awarded their license and moves to unsupervised driving. (1) (2)
In the past decade 1015 drivers between the ages of 15-24 have lost their lives on New Zealand roads, which equates, on average, to a young family member every week.
Earlier this year the Ministry of Transport's annual Social Cost of Road Crashes and Injuries report, estimated the total cost of fatal and injury crashes in 2014 was $3.47 billion (a 5.8 per cent increase from 2013) and the social cost of each fatality was $4.09 million, $430,000 for each serious injury, and $23,000 for each minor injury. The estimated cost includes a component representing the estimated value of pain and suffering to the injured and their family. Reduced productivity, medical and other resource costs are also included. (3)
According to Mr Terry Birss, CEO Road Safety Education Limited, government support for community road safety initiatives is absolutely vital.
“It is good to see social policy initiatives such as that recently touted by NZ First to ensure all high school sudents leave school with their license, but governments need to do more. Not for profit organisations like RYDA cannot be expected to do all the heavy lifting”
“Governments need to lend a hand but should only be supporting road safety education programs which comply with their own guidelines – like RYDA.
Annually RYDA costs just $2 million to provide across Australasia and impacts over 50,000 students, their teachers, parents and the broader community.
“The current economic cost and personal impact of road fatalities is simply unacceptable” said Maria Lovelock, RSE NZ Programme Manager.
“Road safety education programs such as RYDA have the potential to deliver massive economic benefits to our society in addition to reducing the personal impact of road trauma” she said.
In Australia, the Federal Transport Minister recently told a national road safety conference that road trauma is now a public health crisis. “Sadly the same is true in New Zealand” says Lovelock.
“A programme such as RYDA is a once in a lifetime opportunity for young drivers and their passengers at a crucial stage in their life. What students learn at the programme does not come from driving lessons or books… it only comes from being part of an interactive and personalised road safety educational course,” said Mr Birss.
Students are asked to make a minimal contribution to the programme which is currently largely funded by NZ Steel, BOC Gases, BOSCH, Bridgestone, the Alexander group and Community Partner, Rotary.