posted 11 March 2016 by Michelle Robinson
Partners Porirua has recently celebrated its 400th student gaining their learner license through our Young Driver Mentor Programme. If you are about the same age as me, you might wonder why someone needs a driver mentor, and why a young driver just can’t wake up one morning and sit their driving license test. Oh, it was so easy 30 years ago – it was a right of passage, on your 15th birthday – your parents or a driving license instructor would sit beside you for a few lessons and then you were on your way to freedom and independence.
Not so now! Many older people are surprised to hear how long it takes now to get a full license, and even with all the hours of support we provide, we are still only helping young drivers part way through the process.
The value of having a driver license is significant. Firstly it’s a road safety issue, and then there is everything that comes with the independence of being able to transport yourself. There are significant employment opportunities and it’s something to put on your first resume.
On the other hand, not having a driving license causes significant issues for a young person. On the safety side, they have to rely on someone else being a sober driver and making the right choices. If they take the risk of driving, they wrack up huge fines which simply add stress and financial worries. They risk losing their vehicle, and being banned from driving. Not to mention dangerous driving.
Our young driver programme would not happen without the continuous support of our driver mentors, some of whom are retired people, and some of whom are working people whose employers are supporting their volunteer contribution. Our volunteers say that sitting alongside a young person in a car benefits them, just as much as it does the young driver. Not only does it help them to focus on their own driving habits (good and bad) but also they’re hearing about the challenges facing our young people.
Last year we had some national news coverage of our programme, and we have received accolades from the New Zealand Transport Agency, but their financial input into our programme and others around the country is coming to an end. Their role, after all, is to maintain our roading network, not to fund people who want to drive on it.
So we’re on the lookout for community partners who want to make a difference in our community, encourage safe driving, increase the employment opportunities for young drivers, and provide a volunteering opportunity for seniors. Give me a call if that describes you!