Currently, the NSW government requires L plate drivers to prepare for their P plates with 120 hours of driving, including 20 hours of nighttime driving.
Yet for young people like Jax da Costa, getting those hours, is going to be pretty tough. Jax has done about 20 hours but it’s been difficult. ‘My dad works in the afternoons, and he’s the only one I can drive with at the moment.’
Byron Youth Service’s free Driver Training Initiative is helping people like Jax get the hours they need and has begun to roll out the program on Byron Shire roads.
The initiative addresses difficulties local youth face in accessing transport while on their Ls and obtaining their P licence. Young people who don’t have support or transport options to get their driving hours will be linked to volunteer mentors who will provide youth support to learn to drive. This strategy will provide initial pathways to much-needed work experience for young people.
Jax says being able to get their hours up through the BYS has been amazing.
‘I am hoping to get my licence within the next few months. It is really important for me to be able to drive, because I have friends scattered all over NSW and some in Brisbane. As well as that, I would love to be independent, and be able to go places without needing my parents. It would be great for me to have that freedom.’
Requirements for driving mentors
The BYS are looking for people to mentor young drivers. Volunteers need to commit to one day per week (minimum two hours), for the program to succeed. All volunteers involved in the program must have at least two years of current unrestricted C class driving licence; be at least 25 years old; have current First Aid and CPR training; a current NSW Working With Children Check, or commitment to undergo WWCC; a willingness to support young people; and a willingness to undertake training and professional development opportunities.
BYS transport and training co-ordinator, Jess Green, says the project is still in the early stages, but it’s going well.
‘It’s a pilot initiative, and we’re just hoping to get more young people involved in it. We’re wanting to get the word out there for more drivers and more mentors.’
Green says having a licence is so important in this area. ‘As young person myself growing up around Byron, the transport around this area has not been good for the last 20 or so years’.
‘The next generation still has that same issue. We are hoping that if people had that barrier in the past and an understanding of the transport issues in this area, maybe they could help the next generation get their licence and get on the road.’
Jax says it’s a lifesaver, and they feel happy with their progress.
‘I’m finally able to bump my hours up a little bit – week by week – it’s been a great help achieving that so far. I feel really confident when I’m driving.’
Potential mentors can call Steffie on 6685 7777, or email [email protected] to register their interest. Learner drivers between 16 and 24 can register for the program by visiting the ‘Transport’ section on the BYS website: www.bys.org.au/transport Jess Green can be contacted on 0493 479 611, or by email: [email protected]