Strip promoters say allowing young drivers to race will give teens the opportunity to hone their skills in a safe environment, but road safety advocate Rob Wells is against the idea.
Strip promoters say allowing young drivers to race will give teens the opportunity to hone their skills in a safe environment, but road safety advocate Rob Wells is against the idea. Cathy Adams

Opposition to drag plan

ROAD safety advocate Rob Wells has blasted a plan to allow people as young as 16 to enter drag races at Casino.

Responding to a story in The Northern Star  yesterday, Mr Wells said allowing a person without a full licence to use a drag strip flew in the face of everything he had tried to achieve.

Mr Wells has no problem with the concept as a whole, but believes, like Cr Owen Crawford, that allowing unlicensed youngsters to hit top speeds can only add to road tragedy.

Mr Wells has made it his life’s work to improve young driver safety since he lost his son Bryce in a horrific car crash on Broken Head Road in October 2006.

The smash also claimed the lives of three other local teens – Mitchell Eveleigh, Corey New and Paul Morris.

Summerland Drags promoter David Lander said allowing youth to use the strip would teach them to deal with sticky situations, but Mr Wells thinks Lander has it the wrong way around.

“We need to be teaching the kids not to get into these situations,” Mr Wells said.

“Allowing them to drag race is doing the exact opposite.”

Statistics compiled by the George Institute put forward speed as the biggest killer of young drivers, and one-third of all speeding fatalities were males aged 17-25.

While Summerland Drags organisers see the drag strip as an outlet for young drivers, Mr Wells believes anything done on the strip will trans-fer quickly to the roads.

“They will build up a false sense of confidence,” he said.

“They will go out there and race, and then want to come back and show their mates how it’s done.”

Mr Wells was part of the Young Driver Advisory Panel which had a raft of new laws put in place in 2007.

The new laws included zero tolerance for speeding on P-plates; no use of mobile phones for drivers; and only one passenger under the age of 21allowed between 11pm and 5am.

Mr Wells hopes his message isn’t passed off as the words of a grieving parent. He genuinely wants to improve road safety for youth and all other road users.

“Mr Lander has every right to launch this business but I just think he should be more responsible and realise that kids just don’t have the skills,” Mr Wells said.

“The bottom line is that we are sick of seeing young kids killed on our roads and I can only see this leading to further unsafe driving which inevitably leads to crashes, injury and deaths.”

Summerland Drags ticks all the boxes set out by the Australian National Drag Racing Association, but officials from the organisation were unavailable for further comment.



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