Street Smart plan aims to save lives

South Waikato News - - Motoring - ROB MAETZIG

One of New Zealand’s big­gest car com­pa­nies is about to in­tro­duce a na­tion­wide cam­paign aimed at help­ing young mo­torists drive more safely on our roads.

Holden New Zealand is soon to launch Street Smart, a driver train­ing pro­gramme de­signed to equip young Ki­wis to be well pre­pared and con­fi­dent while be­hind the wheel.

The pro­gramme has been de­vel­oped by road safety ex­pert Peter Shep­pard, and will be fronted by mo­tor rac­ing star and road safety ad­vo­cate Greg Mur­phy.

It all stems from grow­ing con­cern that young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers are fig­ur­ing far too highly in ac­ci­dent sta­tis­tics.

‘‘Fa­tal crashes, where the driver’s con­tri­bu­tion is sig­nif­i­cant, such as loss of con­trol, driv­ing too fast for the con­di­tions, or in­ex­pe­ri­ence, are 2-3 times more likely to in­volve 15-24 year old driv­ers, than driv­ers 25 years and older,’’ says Holden NZ gen­eral man­ager of mar­ket­ing Marnie Sam­phier.

‘‘This is due to a lack of aware­ness which re­sults in poor de­ci­sion-mak­ing on the roads. In fact, more than 60 per cent of all fa­tal crashes do not in­volve al­co­hol or drugs.’’ Sam­phier adds that there’s also a need to help youth get their driv­ers li­cences to as­sist them in get­ting a job.

Street Smart will be a one-day event which will pro­vide young driv­ers and their par­ents/ care­givers the op­por­tu­nity to prac­tice their driv­ing un­der su­per­vised con­di­tions.

The fo­cus will be on de­vel­op­ing good de­ci­sion-mak­ing and skills vi­tal for safe driv­ing – in­clud­ing self-as­sess­ment, how to read the road en­vi­ron­ment, re­sist­ing peer pres­sure, man­ag­ing or elim­i­nat­ing dis­trac­tions, and plan­ning ahead.

Th­ese events will be held in con­trolled, off the road en­vi­ron­ments un­der the watch­ful eye of qual­i­fied coaches plus the par­ent/care­giver. This will also al­low the par­ent to as­sess them­selves, in or­der to be a bet­ter coach and men­tor for their teens, says Sam­phier.

A pi­lot event is ex­pected to be held next month to test the pro­gramme un­der real-life con­di­tions, and it will of­fi­cially start early next year.

The Street Smart events will be held dur­ing the school hol­i­days at venues around New Zealand. It is ex­pected they will cater for up to 30 driv­ers each day – all them us­ing their own ve­hi­cles – and there will be a nom­i­nal en­try fee of $40 to $50.

‘‘It’s im­por­tant to make it clear that the Street Smart events will be held un­der strictly con­trolled en­vi­ron­ments – there won’t be any­thing like hot laps,’’ says Holden NZ’S gen­eral man­ager of cor­po­rate af­fairs Ed Finn.

‘‘They will be a prac­ti­cal, hands-on learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, that will add to work al­ready un­der­taken by the NZ Trans­port Agency. po­lice, AA and oth­ers in the area of road safety.’’

Street Smart is de­signed to help teenage driv­ers be more pre­pared when be­hind the wheel of a car.

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