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Mentor programme removes barriers for young drivers

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The driver mentor programme being launched in South Auckland today (18 February 2015) is aimed at helping young learner drivers to get their restricted licence, achieve independence and employment, and become safer on the roads.

The Community Driver Mentor Programme, an initiative between NZ Transport Agency and New Zealand AA, is being launched in partnership with Counties Manukau Sports, NZ Police and sponsors Caltex and Hyundai New Zealand.

The programme addresses the disadvantages that some learner drivers in the 16 to 24-year age group can face getting their restricted licence, such as access to a suitable vehicle, a mentor and driving practice, says the Transport Agency’s Access & Use General Manager Celia Patrick.

“Overseas research shows that learner drivers should practice driving as much as possible before they start to drive alone. They should also practice driving in a wide range of driving conditions and situations. Getting this practice can be difficult.”

Ms Patrick says there are a number of drivers in the South Auckland area that have less than ideal access to a licenced vehicle or an appropriate experienced driver to supervise them during driving which is where the Community Driver Mentor Programme comes in.

Chevron New Zealand, which markets the Caltex brand, is sponsoring the Community Driver Mentor Programme to the tune of $100,000, providing the fuel for the cars.

Dean Gilbert, Chevron NZ General Manager, says “safety is a priority for Caltex, and we see this programme as way we can help the community to protect their young drivers and instil good driving behaviours early on. We’re proud to have been involved in what it’s achieved so far and in what will now be achieved here in South Auckland.”

The South Auckland launch will also welcome Hyundai New Zealand – a 100% New Zealand owned and operated company - to the programme as a key sponsor, along with three of their dealerships - Manukau Hyundai, IC Motor Group and Gary Cockram Hyundai. The Hyundai team are providing three Hyundai i20 cars towards the programme.

“Hyundai New Zealand is proud to contribute to an initiative which will help to keep more young New Zealanders safe on the roads through driver education and experience,” says Hyundai New Zealand General Manager Andy Sinclair. 

“The Hyundai i20 to be used for the programme, along with all our passenger vehicles hold a 5-star safety rating. We are confident that they will provide the best learning experience for young drivers in the programme.”

The mentors are not driving instructors but rather volunteers from the community who act as coaches, supervising the practice driving sessions during the 12-week programme. They have received professional driving training from AA driving instructors and have committed to spending up to two hours a week to help these young people get the experience needed, giving them a better chance to pass their test.

South Auckland is the fifth area to adopt the Community Driver Mentor Programme, which has been achieving great results in Te Kuiti, Porirua, Gisborne and Christchurch.

The programme recently celebrated its 150th graduate and is on track to reach 200 within the next few months.

Volunteers interested in becoming mentors can email diannetroup@gmail.com or phone 021 621 117 for details.

For more information please contact:

Jan McCarthy
Media Manager
T:   64 3 964 2885
M:  021 427 442  
jan.mccarthy@nzta.govt.nz

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