By Darren Coyne
Four years ago Labor’s Janelle Saffin promised to prioritise funding for the Southern Cross LADS project, which aims to provide a facilty to teach young people how to drive safely.
She lost the election, and therefore no funding was forthcoming.
Today, Nationals MP Kevin Hogan is announcing that a re-elected Turnbull government will stump up $250,000 for the project.
Southern Cross LADS spokesperson Rob Wells said whichever way the election goes, supporters hoped to have the facility up and running by October.
The project was conceived ten years ago following the tragic deaths of four young men in an accident on Broken Head Road near Byron Bay.
The families of Bryce Robert Wells, 17, Corey Robert New, 16, Mitchell Eveleigh, 16, and Paul Christopher Jason Morris, 16, have been the driving forces behind the project.
The idea is to build a driver training facility on land on the outskirts of Lismore where young drivers can receive expert training.
The Lismore City Council has approved a development application for the facility, and the group has already raised a substantial amount. But it needs the support of government to start building the facility.
Mr Hogan said he was re-elected, the Federal Government would contribute $250,000 to kick start the project, with donations raised by Southern Cross LADS making up the remainder.
‘This project has been talked about since our community’s tragic loss of four young lives in a car crash at Broken Head in 2006,’ Mr Hogan said.
‘Any life lost on our roads is far too many. This ‘shovel ready’ project will help train our young people to make them safer drivers.’
The track will be about 500 metres in circumference and built on a 50 acre site on the outskirts of Lismore.
It will feature various road conditions including ‘wet’ conditions, roundabouts for vision and steering training, corners of various radii, a straight sufficient for vehicles to accelerate to 80km/h, sand traps and a spectator viewing area.
Mr Wells told Echonetdaily that whatever the outcome of the election, it was important to keep moving on the project.
‘It will be 10 years in October since the crash so if we could get it started by then it would be great,’ he said.
He said the full cost of the project was about $800,000, which was not a lot when compared with the costs involved when a person died in a car accident.
He pointed to a University of Queensland study, released in 2006, that found that the cost of an accident was $1.823million when such things as emergency response, investigations, court cases, funerals and other factors were taken into account.
‘We have the highest fatality rate in rural New South Wales which has a lot to do with the fact there is no public transport so young people have no option but to drive,’ he said.