Life­line for new driv­ers

Re­lief at fund­ing sup­port

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - NEWS - PA­TRICK GEE

NEW NOR­FOLK driv­ing men­tor Mike Berry wel­comes the State Govern­ment’s re­cent com­mit­ment to ex­tend fund­ing to learner driver men­tor pro­grams around the state.

As a former po­lice of­fi­cer, Mr Berry knows all too well the im­por­tance of learn­ing to drive safely and to the con­di­tions, and was re­cruited as one of the first men­tors for the Derwent Val­ley men­tor pro­gram Drive Time.

His ex­pe­ri­ence from ad­vanced driv­ing cour­ses, and deal­ing with traf­fic ac­ci­dents as a po­lice of­fi­cer, have helped Mr Berry pre­pare driv­ers for the risks of the road. He has seen 10 learn­ers through to get­ting their P-plates.

“I had 31 years in the po­lice force and 11 of those in traf­fic, so I’ve seen my share of prangs,” Mr Berry said.

“I re­ally be­lieve in men­tor­ing learn­ers to drive to the con­di­tions. I take them out re­gard­less of the weather, whether it’s cold, foggy or icy.”

Mr Berry said he be­lieved the pro­gram was par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for learner driv­ers in the Derwent Val­ley, where mo­torists of­ten had to travel some dis­tance for work and faced chal­leng­ing road con­di­tions.

Tori Son­ners, 20, said she planned to join the pro­gram this year, and said be­ing men­tored by an ex­pe­ri­enced driver like Mr Berry would give her more con­fi­dence to get be­hind the wheel.

With her fa­ther a full-time carer, find­ing some­one to sit in the car be­side her has been the big­gest ob­sta­cle pre­vent­ing her from gain­ing a li­cence so far.

“It would def­i­nitely help hav­ing some­one like Mike to teach me all the cor­rect tech­niques,” Ms Son­ners said.

Gain­ing her li­cence would have a big im­pact on her life, open­ing up op­por­tu­ni­ties pre­vi­ously un­avail­able to her.

“I will be able to get where I need to go, it will help me get a job, and it saves dad driv­ing me be­cause he’s a full-time carer,” she said.

Mr Berry said: “I get a lot of sat­is­fac­tion out of be­ing a men­tor. To get some­one right through from scratch takes about 15 months by the time they get their hours up and all the rest.

“It’s a bit weird,” he said of the process. “You’re float­ing on air that they’ve got their li­cence, but at the same time there’s a sense of loss be­cause you’ve been with the per­son for so long.”

Drive Time co-or­di­na­tor Lexia Brown said the pro­gram re­lied en­tirely on govern­ment fund­ing and she was grate­ful for the com­mit­ment.

“This is a pro­gram that changes lives for the bet­ter,” Ms Brown said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.