A secondary student campaigning for road safety says more young people need support to access advanced driving courses.
Upper Hutt College Year 13 students Tayla Hill was speaking at the conference of the New Zealand Institute of Driver Educators. She is a national leader for Kaitiaki o Ara/SADD.
“If everyone was given the opportunity to attend defensive driving, it would extremely beneficial and help youth on our roads," she says.
"You gain so much knowledge and it helps you understand the process of why – why we should be a safe driver, and why we should learn the risks around us and about driving to the conditions.”
Tayla says cost is an obstacle to some young people.
“It is expensive to get your licence. If you do a defensive driving course, if you get lessons – especially on top of sports registrations and uniforms and books. So, when students don’t have that support from school, family or outside organisations, it’s very expensive.”
Tayla says the alternative of families going it alone on driving instruction runs the risk of young people mistakenly picking up on incorrect driving practices.
“If you’re only picking up on what your parents are doing, you can end up with this over-confident bubble in your head that you can do anything you want.”
Tayla outlined findings from a 2021 survey of senior secondary students run by SADD board youth representative Sterling Maxwell. Of the 148 respondents who said they had their restricted licence, 86 said they have driven with passengers, in breach of licence conditions. And of those, 67 said their parents let them.
“The most common responses about why their parents let them drive with people was because they trust their child to be safe and not make bad decisions, that if their child got caught it was their responsibility and they didn’t care, that it was a convenience thing, like driving a sibling to school and lastly they weren’t happy about it, but they take no action to stop it happening.”
In response to the survey findings, SADD students released a campaign video calling for parents and caregivers to ensure young drivers stick to the rules.
Tayla also encouraged driving instructors to explain the reasons behind the safe practices they teach.
“Students like doing things if they know the ‘why’. The only way youth are going to start making a difference and not breaking these rules and not taking risks is them knowing why it’s important not to do so.”
Advanced driving course providers (Waka Kotahi)(external link)
Drive – the official way to learn to drive(external link)