Eye-opening driver safety program

Cr Vince Habermann and Rotary's Matt Griffiths brushing up on their driver safety. Picture: AARON GOODWIN

By Aaron Goodwin

An attitude changing driver awareness program for our youth is returning to Bundaberg next year, in an effort to reduce the number of fatalities on the road.

The Rotary Youth Driver Awareness program (RYDA) will be held for local Year 10 students over five days in August 2022, at the Bundaberg Recreational Precinct.

The RYDA program empowers high school students with the knowledge, skills and techniques to change their attitudes and behaviour to make better decisions on the road.

The program is being deliveried thanks to a collaboration between Bundaberg Police, Rotary and Bundaberg Regional Council.

Across a full day, students will take part in the interactive and eye opening program, with speakers who have been in a serious accident or lost loved ones, as well as demonstrations on safe braking distances.

Rotary will fund the cost of the RYDA program, including transportation for all year 10 students in the Bundaberg Region along with funding for meals and printed resources and cooking the food on the day.

Council is providing free use of the Bundaberg Recreational Precinct for five days of the program.

Bundaberg Rotary Club’s Matt Griffiths said the RYDA program was originally created after four teenage boys died in a car crash back in 2000.

”It’s helping the students understand that choices matter when it comes to road safety,” Mr Griffiths said.

”Year 10 is around about the time that you’re going for your learners license.

”You want to get them young when they’re first starting out because it’s so much harder to break bad habits.

”We want to start off on the right foot, which I know is a pun in my case because I don’t have a right foot.

”As a parent of a child who will be in Year 10 next year, I can’t think of anything more important to me at the moment, knowing my son is going to be safer on the road.”

Cr Vince Habermann said that the waiver of fees for five days will save Rotary around $2,000 to run the course.

“The area will be the epi-centre of the program and is where our local students will learn about safe driving and why it is so crucial, not only for their own lives but also for the lives of those around them,” Cr Habermann said.

”It was a no-brainer really to support this program.

”It’s sad to see our road fatality statistics in Queensland this year.

“Council is proud to work with local police and the Rotary Club of Bundaberg to help bring this very important initiative to the region.”

Mr Griffiths said the program will highlight to students the flow-on impacts and stresses placed on others, if they are involved in a serious or fatal crash.

”A split second decision has a lifetime of consequences,” Mr Griffiths said.

”It is a hard hitting program because you’re really trying to get that message across.

”I’ve spoken to a lot of emergency service workers, the fact that these guys have to deal with these consequences.

”Even the emergency service workers are over represented in suicide statistics because of what they have to see.”

Mr Griffiths said there will be added benefits and incentives for students who participate in the RYDA program.

Road Safety Education senior program coordinator Hanna Olsen said every teenager deserves to plan for a bright future.

”However, despite improvements laws, vehicles & roads etc., novice drivers and their passengers remain most at risk of death or serious injury on Queensland roads,” Ms Olsen said.

”The support of this program, from Bundaberg Regional Council as well as from the business community, the State Government and community volunteers, ensures this life-saving education is affordable, and therefore accessible, to all students.”

More information will come about the running of the RYDA program in 2022.