Driver training facility gets OK

YOUNG driver education group Southern Cross LADS has reached another milestone in its mission to improve young driver safety.

The first phase of the education facility envisioned by the group has just been given the thumbs up by Lismore City Council.

Born amid the grief of a 2006 accident which cost the lives of four Lismore teenage boys, Southern Cross LADS (Learn About Driving Skills) is dedicated to educating young drivers.

The facility is envisioned to become a regional centre for this goal, providing courses for drivers from Tweed Heads to Coffs Harbour and as far west as Tenterfield.

LADS chairman Paul Rippon said the facility will aim to transform young people's understanding of safe driving via on-track and classroom training.

"Our view is that parents and driving instructors provide excellent on-road training but there are some things that you need a safer environment to teach the kids," Mr Rippon said.

"When they're out with their Mum or Dad or driving instructor they're in a pretty safe environment... all of a sudden they get their Ps, and haven't really been exposed to having people in the car with them while they're the ones in charge."

"It's all about getting them to take responsibility for their decisions."

"You also need the classroom to talk to the kids and get them talking among themselves about behavioural change - for example how they deal with peer pressure while they're driving."

The facility will be the only one of its kind between Newcastle and Brisbane, providing a valuable service to the region's schools.

"We also see it as a community facility. It will be there primarily to educate young people, but other courses will be accessible by everyone in the Northern Rivers," Mr Rippon said.

The group is in discussions with a major driver education site in Melbourne to bring courses to the facility to be supervised locally by qualified driver educators.

Cash or in-kind support to fund the estimated $600,000 community project is now being sought.

"Any businesses who might be able to provide civil works such as landscaping supplies or road construction, we hope will come on board," Mr Rippon said.

For more information go to the Southern Cross LADS website.

Topics:  lismore city council, southern cross lads



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