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Mentor programme removes barriers for budding drivers

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The Transport Agency and Gisborne District Council are welcoming a new mentor programme to help young drivers get their restricted licences.

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Annette Meates, NZ Transport Agency, Sam Abrahama, Area Commander NZ Police, Jeremy Clark, Chevron New Zealand, which markets the Caltex brand, Simon Douglas, AA

The Community Driver Mentor Programme is designed to reduce barriers for learner drivers in the 16–24 age group seeking to get their restricted licence. These barriers can include access to suitable vehicles, experienced drivers to supervise, and the additional driving practice needed before the new test. 

Through the partnership between the Gisborne District Council, Nga Ara Pai, the Transport Agency, AA, the NZ Police, Caltex (who are generously providing the fuel for all programmes), and volunteer mentors, students will gain additional experience to make them safer on the road in a variety of situations with the aim of sitting and getting their restricted licenses.

Transport Agency group manager Celia Patrick says overseas research suggests that learner drivers should practise driving as much as possible before they start to drive alone. They should also practise driving in a wide range of driving conditions and situations.

“But getting this practice can be easier said than done, and some learner drivers need support to get this time and experience under their belt.”
Ms Patrick says there are a number of young drivers in the Gisborne region who have less opportunity for driving practice, such as those living in rural areas, without access to a licensed vehicle, or without an appropriate experienced driver to supervise them during practice. The programme will help to remove those barriers, she said.

At the launch in May, Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon said “I am totally supportive of this programme. Things have changed since when I got my licence. Cars are more powerful and the statistics show we need to do more with our young people to keep them safe.”

The programme has already proved very effective in two pilot areas (Waitomo and Porirua). Together with the AA, the Transport Agency is in discussion with a number of other communities to discuss how to support disadvantaged learner drivers. 

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