Driving lessons at schools smoothen career path

Staff Reporter

A new study at Massey University has recommended Compulsory driver’s licence education at secondary schools.

It said that a driver’s license will make a big difference in helping young people get jobs.

Dr Peter Rawlins, author of the ‘Steering Aotearoa Driving Training Pilot Report,’ said that his evaluation of a programme in Central Hawke’s Bay highlights multiple benefits for students and their families if formal driver education to encourage teenagers to get their full licence at school is made available.

Multiple benefits

Other key benefits from offering driving lessons at school include a boost to teens’ sense of independence and development as responsible adults, as well as reducing family tensions that can arise when parents are the main driving instructors.

Dr Rawlins said that a structured, NCEA-credited programme with professional driving instructors would equip young people with safe driving skills and behaviour at a critical age, with the notable benefit of helping reduce road crashes, injuries and death.

Preventing illegal driving

Cost is often cited as a major barrier for many young people in getting a full driver’s licence. This can result in illegal driving and subsequent infringements that add further costs and complications, including limiting opportunities in finding work.

School-based drive education would go a long to preventing this, he says. It costs $93.90 for a learner’s licence, $134.80 for a restricted and $109.50 for a full licence.

He presented his findings to the Mayoral Task Force for Jobs AGM at the Local Government New Zealand conference in Auckland, of which the Task Force is a part.

The Meeting endorsed a remit, based on the research findings to lobby the government to support the implementation of a free and all-inclusive universal driver’s licence programme at NCEA level two.

Mayors’ interest

Many rural mayors are keen to see the programme made widely available because of the challenges young people face in getting to jobs in rural areas during and beyond their school years.

The Steering Aotearoa Pilot scheme came about when Central Hawkes Bay’s Economic Development Strategy group looked at some of the issues associated with employment, training and education.

It concluded that too many students were leaving high school without a driver’s licence, which resulted in a major barrier to local employment.

Working Group

A small working group lead by Kelly Annand, Director of Connecting for Youth Employment, developed a driver training programme for Central Hawke’s Bay College in Waipukurau, with the primary aim of giving all students an opportunity to obtain their full driver’s licence before they left high school.

Twenty students aged 16+ were selected to be part of the Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs-funded pilot, partnering with Massey’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, which funded the research and evaluation report.

At the start of the programme, students studied the road code and did practice online tests to sit their learner licence.

Students who failed any part of their licence were given extra support to re-sit until they passed. During the six months’ they are required to have a learner licence before they can sit their restricted licence test, they spent time in the school holidays with instructors and mentors who taught them the basics of driving.

They then received six one-hour driving lessons from a professional driving instructor throughout the next six months, as well as additional 52 hours practice with mentors (family, friends of family, community volunteers – including retired police officers and business people). They also did a nine-hour professional defensive driving course.

“All participants passed the learner’s level; and restricted and defensive driving tests and are currently working towards gaining full licenses once the one-year restricted period was over. Five of the 20 students have left school and gone on to full time work, and all 20 students will be supported till they the receive their full driver’s licence,” Ms Annand said.

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Driving students from Central Hawke’s Bay College with Mayor Alex Walker and pilot convener Kelly Annand

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