The Road Ahead : December 2010
MEMBER ESSENTIALS REGIONAL DRIVER TRAINING IT'S AN EXPERIENCE every parent dreads -- a knock, a police officer at the door with the look of someone about to bestow tragic news. For parents of regional Queensland kids, this is not a rarity; it's a curse that has wiped out hundreds of young lives and ripped apart families, and it could have been avoided. When Origin began its coal seam gas operations in the Surat Basin there was a determination to give back to the community, so the company threw open the suggestion box and the overwhelming response was driver training. This year Origin has partnered with RACQ and the Queensland Police to specifically tailor a driver program for regional Queenslanders to arm learner and P plate drivers with the skills, behaviours and reflex reactions required to deal with corrugated roads, road trains, farm machinery and the wildlife and stock that often wanders onto country roads. Under the Origin Caring About Road Safety (CARS) program, qualified RACQ driving instructors coach young drivers on how to meet these and other challenges. Origin has heavily discounted the training programs (from $320 to just $40) to make them accessible to young people who may not otherwise have had the means to enrol. This year alone about 250 students from Dalby, Chinchilla, Tara, Miles and Roma have gone through the program. The CARS School Learner Driver program targets Year 11 and 12 high school students over 16 who hold a Queensland learner's licence. An e-learning component gets students started before they even get into a car. RACQ executive manager driver education Scott Lewin said the course was a breakthrough for regional Queenslanders who had less opportunity than city kids to access driver training. smart learning curve The Origin Caring About Road Safety (CARS) program is designed to give young drivers the skills, knowledge and confidence behind the wheel -- and reduce the risk of crashes. WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 66 THE ROAD AHEAD DEC 2010/JAN 2011 "Driving safely is not just about the mechanics of driving a car, it's about intuition, concentration and a heightened awareness of what's going on around them, whether it's sharing a road with wandering stock or a road train or dealing with torrential rain,'' Mr Lewin said. The Origin CARS Community Driver Training program helps already licensed drivers in regional communities to develop the skills and a positive attitude to driver more safely and confidently on regional roads. This is also subsidised by Origin, costing participants $75 instead of $383. The one day course educates drivers on their behaviour and how to drive safely in changing environments, brush up on their road rules, how to perform basic safety checks and to share the road with other road users. For more information, contact RACQ on 3361 2382 or visit the website www.origintogether.com.