P-PLATERS: At their first session.
P-PLATERS: At their first session.

Youth on the road to safer driving

LISMORE is once again the venue for a pilot program - there must be something about our demographic that attracts researchers and makes it worthwhile for innovative trials to be held here.

This behaviour-based program is aimed at educating young drivers and reducing the terrible statistics related to death and injuries on the road involving drivers in the first few months of holding a provisional licence.

P-plate drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a casualty crash than more experienced drivers. Drivers aged 17 to 21 represent only 8% of NSW licensed drivers, but account for 23% of deaths and injuries on NSW roads.

The research trial, known to participants as MyLiveTribe, is the largest of its kind ever carried out in the world. By the end of the trial in NSW and Victoria, 28,000 P-plate drivers will have gone through a combination of online sessions, workshop discussions and on-road driving experience.

Lismore is one of four NSW regions holding MyLiveTribe courses in the P Drivers Project through ACE Community College in Magellan Street. Seven teenagers attended the first session last Saturday.

Among them was Michaela Bowman, 18, of Lismore, who has had her red P plates for nearly three months.

"I signed up because I wanted to learn new driving skills, and to try and recognise hazards on the road and how to deal with them," Michaela told The Echo.

"I have young friends who are already driving and are not so good at it; it's all about having fun and taking risks.

"I'm interested in this course because it's about saving lives.

"Everyone knows someone who's been killed or injured. I have a friend who lost her 17-year-old brother. That's made me more aware of the risks."

Any young person in the first three months of their red P-plates can join the course, NSW Transport policy officer and program manager Paul Rajnoch told The Echo.

"They go through a four-part program, covering following distance, speed management, gap selection and hazard recognition and response, in a mix of online and classroom sessions, and in-car experience," he explained.

"They have to be 'fresh' enough not to have already developed bad habits, and open to changing their road behaviour in the interests of safety.

"At the end of the course, each young driver will develop a personal, tailor-made driving plan."

Anyone wanting to join must be aged 17-21 and must have held a new P1 licence for less than three months.

Online registration is at www.pdriversproject.com.au or for more information and registration, phone 1800 454 133.

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