Spotlight on young drivers in road safety program

RAC presenter Natalie Wong with Paraplegic Benefit Fund presenter Rob Pike.
RAC presenter Natalie Wong with Paraplegic Benefit Fund presenter Rob Pike.

A ROAD safety program is giving young offenders a second chance.

Through WA Police and the Department of Corrective Services, RAC’s Community Education Team is delivering a crucial road safety program to young people aged 13 to 18 who have committed driving offences.

RAC media and government relations senior manager Liz Carey said the program delivered road safety classes in Warwick, Mt Lawley, Belmont and Rockingham each Monday.

“We teach young offenders the importance of safe driving and the effects of alcohol, drugs and reckless behaviour on driving and being a responsible passenger,” she said.

“Last year, 184 people died in road crashes in WA, making our State’s fatality rate the worst in the country.

“Drivers aged 17 to 24 accounted for 22 per cent of all WA road fatalities despite only making up 12 per cent of the population.

“Half of our most recent young driver survey respondents used their phone while driving, while a further 20 per cent checked social media behind the wheel.

Ms Carey said the results were worrying, and reinforced the need to educate, and not to just penalise young drivers.

The program includes a presentation from the Paraplegic Benefit Fund to address the consequences of sustaining a spinal cord or permanent injury from a road trauma event.

Presenter Rob Pike shares his own road trauma story with attendees to explain how different life is when living with a permanent disability.

At the young age of 17, Mr Pike lost both of his legs, as well as his three of his friends, in a car crash.

“Often young people come in with a negative attitude and trivialise their offence as not serious,” he said.

“When I talk about my life-changing experience, they usually change their tune pretty quickly.”