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P-plater driving program

Lismore Driving School owner and instructor Steve Combe has taken part in keys2drive training, and soon will be able to offer free lessons to P-platers.
Lismore Driving School owner and instructor Steve Combe has taken part in keys2drive training, and soon will be able to offer free lessons to P-platers. Jacklyn Wagner

A SCHEME to lower the number of P-plate driver crashes has arrived in New South Wales.

A dozen North Coast driving instructors attended a training workshop in Coffs Harbour recently as part of the Federal Government’s keys2drive program.

Goonellabah instructor Stephen Combe took part, and will soon qualify to provide free lessons to beginner drivers.

“The idea is to have the supervising driver, usually mum or dad, come on the lesson with the beginning driver, and a keys2drive accredited driving instructor,” Mr Combe said.

The scheme was prompted by statistics that showed L-plate drivers were among the least accident-prone, but that crashes soared when young drivers fitted their P-plates, he said.

“Keys2drive aims to keep drivers accident-free in the first six months of their P-plates,” Mr Combe said.

The program offers trainee drivers free lessons based on a coaching approach known as ‘Find Your Own Way’.

Learners are encouraged to get used to the kind of distractions they are likely to experience when they graduate to P-plates, such as having the radio on, Mr Combe said. The goal is to have them become ‘self-supervised’, he said.

“It’s a great idea to have a parent in the car, because I would usually have to spend 10 minutes with them after a lesson anyway, telling them what we had covered,” he said. “This way they know what to concentrate on.”

Mr Combe said the program had been shown to be successful in reducing the number of accidents.

Mike Harris, CEO of the Australian Automobile Association, a partner in the project, said 300 instructors across the country had registered for training, and that 80 had qualified already.

Another seminar is due to be held at Tweed Heads next week.

Young people and their parents can log on to the keys2drive website and register for a free lesson.



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