Driver’s licence initiative proving to be a winner

Article by KRIS DANDO, Kapi Mana

Patrick Fenika preferred to have a policeman sitting next to him rather than waving him down at a checkpoint. Fenika is one of a group of Porirua teens who have recently passed their restricted driver’s licences. As part of a programme run by Partners Porirua, with support from the AA, NZ Transport Agency, Hyundai and Caltex, the group were mentored on road rules by a police mentor. The first group of 15 to go through this year’s programme were referred to Partners by police, after breaking their learner licence rules or other illegal driving activity.

Fenika was stopped at a checkpoint, and faced fines for being on his learner licence, so jumped at the chance to get his restricted sorted. ‘‘It was daunting to have a policeman sitting next to me in the car, but after a while it became normal,’’ he said. ‘‘It gave me confidence on the road and I’m glad I did it.’’ Porirua’s Waylon Shadlock, was last week the 400th student to pass his restricted licence as part of the programme. Henry Samia, from Partners Porirua, said unlicensed and illegal driving was a problem among young people.

This programme gave young people a positive view of police and the police another chance to engage with teenagers in the city, he said. The programme involved two driving sessions a week for up to 12 weeks, depending on how well the teens were faring behind the wheel. ‘‘This is also a priority for young parents, to be able to get themselves and their children around, and for job prospects as well,’’ he said. ‘‘All the feedback we’re receiving has been great.’’ The programme was launched in 2013, using mentors from businesses and organisations like Rotary, but adding police to the list this time was another big step, Samia said.


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