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Safer young drivers coming to Whangarei roads


Young learner drivers will benefit from a driver mentor programme launched in Whangarei today (12 March 2015) that aims to help them get their restricted licence 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 People Potential, NZ Police, and sponsors Caltex and Hyundai New Zealand.

The programme is designed to give disadvantaged young drivers in the 16 to 24-year age group access to a suitable vehicle and experienced mentor, the two barriers which often stop them from getting the much needed practice to pass their restricted test and reduce their crash risk on the road, according to the Transport Agency’s Access & Use General Manager Celia Patrick.

”This programme is a great community partnership where everyone is working to help our young people develop safer driving behaviours, which we’ve already seen can give them access to opportunities that stretch well beyond getting their restricted licence,” said Ms Patrick.

The learner drivers are paired with mentors who will supervise 30 hours of driving during the 12-week programme. The mentors have all received professional driving training and committed to spending two hours each week to help the young drivers get the necessary range of driving experience.

The learner drivers also receive three lessons with a qualified driving instructor, who monitors and guides their progress, advising when they are ready to sit their restricted test.

Chevron New Zealand, which markets the Caltex brand, is providing $100,000 worth of fuel for the mentored sessions over the course of the national programme.

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 Northland.”

Hyundai New Zealand has also recently joined the initiative and, together with three of their dealerships, are supplying three brand new i20s for the learners to practice in. Like all of Hyundai’s passenger vehicles, the i20 holds a 5-star rating which provides an ideal learning experience for the young learners, says IC Motor Group’s Dealer Principal, Kelly Illerbrun.

“IC Motor Group is delighted to contribute to an initiative which will help to keep our Northland youths safe on the roads through driver education and experience,” said Mr Illerbrun. 

Community Driver Mentor Programmes have already proven to be highly successful in Porirua, Te Kuiti, Christchurch, Gisborne and South Auckland, with the programme on track to celebrate its 200th graduate within the next few months.

Volunteers who are interested in becoming mentors can email or phone 09 437 7593 for details.

For more information please contact:

Jan McCarthy
NZ Transport Agency
Media Manager
M: 021 427 442