Driving lessons for kids as young as 12 proposed in bid to help reduce NSW road toll
NSW Nationals MP Andrew Fraser is calling for school students as young as 12 to be given mandatory driving lessons as part of the curriculum.
Mr Fraser, the member for Coffs Harbour, said it was an attempt to reduce the state’s road toll and had put forward a proposal to Deputy Premier and the Minister for Roads.
He said the program would be modelled off a program being trialled by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS).
Students would learn how to handle a vehicle in adverse conditions, car mechanics and the road safety hazards around drugs, alcohol and texting, Mr Fraser said.
“We teach kids how to cook at school but we don’t teach them how to drive.
“Not many people die from their own cooking, but at the end of the day there’s a lot of people killed and maimed because of inexperience in a motor vehicle.”
Mr Fraser said the hands-on skills could be taught at enclosed specialist driving facilities at Eastern Creek and Armidale which are used to train emergency services personnel.
However, he is pushing for similar centres to be established in all major regional centres.
The state would have no problem funding such a program, Mr Fraser said.
“When you receive $104 million from speed camera fines alone, I believe the funding is there.
“The savings to the healthcare system alone would fund this.”
Benefits would justify costs
CAMS president Andrew Papadopoulos said the group had put together a proposed syllabus for schools, which includes five three-hour lessons introducing students to safer driving.
Each program would involve up to 30 students and could be taught at any time between years 7 and 11.
Mr Papadopoulos said a pilot-program for 20 schools consisting of theory and practical driving lessons would cost an estimated $100,000.
He argued the cost of such a program would be justified if it were to prevent just one person ending up in hospital from a motor vehicle accident.
“It’s fairly cost-effective when you consider the end result of what could happen to our society if we don’t take these actions.”
While younger drivers dominate the road toll statistics, Mr Papadopoulos said the program would require a long-term approach to reducing fatalities.
“It might take two or three years until these kids get on the road and understand the way that they should be driving that we might end up with the results,” he said.
“But you’ve got to start somewhere.”