A TEN year mission to protect young lives on North Coast roads is now a tangible reality as construction begins on the SC LADS Driver Education Facility.
The four Rivers Secondary College Kadina High Campus captains that were on hand to pay their respects and witness the occasion were a stark reminder of the kind of young lives that would benefit from such a driving school.
In front of a large crowd consisting of financial contributors, Southern Cross LADS Committee members and family, the first sod was broken on the Stage 1 section of the Driver Education Facility, just outside Lismore.
The facility was born out of tragedy, when the lives of four young men were cut short as a result of a motor vehicle crash at Broken Head in October 2006.
Southern Cross LADS Committee Secretary Rob Wells said it had taken this long to make sure they had all the specifications right.
"We lost four fantastic boys in a car crash that affected this whole region so this is going stay here for the future, for the region and for our grandkids and our great grandkids," Mr Wells said.
"Any money that goes into stays here," he said.
"We want to teach young people to identify the risk indicators and modify their driving accordingly.
"If we can give them more skills so that when they are in control of that motor vehicle they are aware of their responsibilities not only to themselves, but to their passengers and other road users that is what this facility is all about."
Karen Eveleigh, who's son Mitchell lost his life in the accident, said she never thought it would take ten years to get to the ceremony today but having lived through it she understood why it tookt his long to raise that much money.
"It means an incredible amount to Robert and I in the memory of our son and that he didn't die in vain and that we can get young people with driving skills that otherwise wouldn't get the opportunity to learn," Mrs Eveleigh said.
According to LADS Chairman, Mr Paul Rippon, a generous benefactor, a competitive quote from civil construction company, Civil Logic, and funding from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development meant Southern Cross LADS was able to start building Stage 1.
"The community has been incredibly supportive of Southern Cross LADS and has helped keep the dream alive. We are excited that this very important day has arrived," said Mr Rippon.
Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan today helped turn the first sod on Stage 1 .
"Any life lost on our roads is far too many.
"I was determined to help get this life-saving facility built. This is why I made an election commitment of $250,000 to kick start the project.
"It has been a community effort to turn this very good idea into a reality.
The track will be about 500 metres in circumference and built on a 50 acre site on the outskirts of Lismore.
It will feature various road conditions including 'wet' conditions, roundabouts for vision and steering training, corners of various radii, a straight sufficient for vehicles to accelerate to 80km/h, sand traps and a spectator viewing area.
The Federal Government is contributing $250,000 to kick start the project, with donations raised by Southern Cross LADS making up the remainder.
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