Lack of road safety education costs young lives

Lack of road safety education costs young lives

Road Safety Education Limited (RSE) has released a study that shows that the gap between driver licensing and road safety education contributes to the young dying on New Zealand roads.

Young drivers are involved in 27% of fatal crashes and crash frequency increases by a factor of thirty in the brief time that a learner driver is awarded their license and moves to unsupervised driving.

In the past decade 1015 drivers between the ages of 15-24 have lost their lives on New Zealand roads, which equates, on average, to a young family member every week.

The four-year social impact study from ‘not for profit agency’ RSE in conjunction with its youth road safety awareness programme (RYDA), which educates senior high school students on road safety, is committed to reducing trauma on roads.

Earlier this year the Ministry of Transport’s annual social cost of road crashes and injuries report estimated the total cost of fatal and injury crashes in 2014 was $3.47 billion (a 5.8% increase from 2013) and the social cost of each fatality was $4.09 million; $430,000 for each serious injury and $23,000 for each minor injury.

The estimated cost includes a component representing the estimated value of pain and suffering to the injured and their family. Reduced productivity, medical and other resource costs are also included.

According to Terry Birss, chief executive on Road Safety Education Limited, government support for community road safety initiatives is absolutely vital.

“It is good to see social policy initiatives such as that recently touted by NZ First to ensure all high school students leave school with their license, but governments need to do more. Not for profit organisations like RYDA cannot be expected to do all the heavy lifting,” he says.

“Governments need to lend a hand but should only be supporting road safety education programmes which comply with their own guidelines – like RYDA.”

Annually RYDA costs just $2 million to provide across Australasia, and impacts over 50,000 students, their teachers, parents and the broader community.

“The current economic cost and personal impact of road fatalities is simply unacceptable,” says Maria Lovelock, RSE NZ programme manager.

“Road safety education programmes such as RYDA have the potential to deliver massive economic benefits to our society in addition to reducing the personal impact of road trauma.”

In Australia, the Federal Transport Minister recently told a national road safety conference that road trauma is now a public health crisis. “Sadly the same is true in New Zealand,” says Lovelock.

“A programme such as RYDA is a once in a lifetime opportunity for young drivers and their passengers at a crucial stage in their life. What students learn at the programme does not come from driving lessons or books. It only comes from being part of an interactive and personalised road safety educational course.”

Students are asked to make a minimal contribution to the programme, which is currently largely funded by NZ Steel, BOC Gases, BOSCH, Bridgestone, the Alexander Group and community partner, Rotary.

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