The Rotary Club of Maungaturoto identified a need in the community to assist young drivers with their Learner licence to proceed to their Restricted licence. Many learner drivers do not have access to a vehicle in which they can practise driving, so the club partnered with Roadsafe Northland and the local iwi (Māori tribe) to provide lessons.
The club purchased a vehicle and some of the members were among the eight mentors trained to give each learner approximately 12 lessons. It is recommended that 120 driving hours be completed in the six months between the two licences and the people who perform best are those who have access to a car between lessons.
At the end of 2020, the car was replaced thanks to the generosity of two Rotarians, Roadsafe Northland and local Dean Garnett, who keeps the car in good operating condition. At the same time, Whangarei-based private training company, People Potential, included the program as part of its curriculum. The first lessons are in the Maungaturoto area and as competence improves mentors take their learners further afield to Mangawhai, Ruakaka, Whangarei and Dargaville.
The team has had just over 80 per cent success rate for first timers sitting their Restricted licence and students are grateful they now have the option of sitting it in either Whangarei or Dargaville. Obtaining this licence opens the door to educational, recreational and social opportunities, which is important in a rural area with no bus service operating.
A student who recently obtained her Restricted licence and is involved in a number of activities outside school hours says the licence has made a huge difference to her family’s life.
“Mum or Dad had to drive me to my ballet lessons in Warkworth three times a week. Now I can drive myself, which will be very helpful, especially when Mum and Dad are busy with work.”
With the ongoing support of mentor drivers, it is hoped this scheme will continue as it grows in popularity.