Fit To Drive Foundation launches online program to help learners navigate coronavirus restrictions

Lucy Callander
Mornington Peninsula Leader

Experts fear “impatient and overconfident” learner drivers could be hitting the road solo because of long waits for licence testing.

Fit to Drive Foundation chief executive Georgia Symmons said many young people had logged their 120 hours during the coronavirus lockdown but could not take their driving test because of ongoing restrictions.

“Bad decisions may be made including taking out the family car (without a supervising driver), in so doing risking lives and their family’s car from being impounded,” Ms Symmons said.

On April 8 an unaccompanied learner driver was caught drink driving in Berwick, resulting in the 32 year old owner of the car losing her wheels.

Police pulled over the blue BMW on Clyde Road about 9am on Saturday morning where the L-plate driver was breath tested and recorded a BAC level of .145 per cent.

The female owner of the car from Cranbourne North had her car impounded for 30 days at a cost of $1032.

Ms Symmons said the foundation was also concerned about how young drivers were behaving with less traffic on the road.

“They are speeding and believe they won’t get caught,” Ms Symmons said.

“But they are putting their lives and those of others in danger.”

VicRoads has suspended licence testing and has not yet set a date to resume the service.

Mt Eliza learner driver Ysobel O’Brien was booked to sit her test in April.

“I don’t know when I will be able to do it,” she said.

“We’ve been told that people with bookings will be contacted when the tests start up again.”

However, the Toorak College Year 12 student was happy to wait.

“I live right around the corner from school and I’m not working this year so I don’t have to worry about getting to and from a job,” she said.

“But I can see how difficult it would be for people who really need their licence.”

Fit to Drive has launched an online program to help young drivers navigate the coronavirus restrictions.

Steer Right is aimed at Year 10 and 11 students and aims to teach them how to handle risky road situations and plan how to stay safe.

“The idea is for them to think about what they might say if someone is pressuring them to get behind the wheel,” Ms Symmons said.

“Having phrases like ‘Let’s get an Uber’ ready makes it easier to use when the time comes.”

The one hour interactive webinar is the latest tool Fit to Drive is using to reduce youth road trauma.

The in-school program was started by former principal turned road safety advocate Graham Spencer about 15 years ago after a Year 12 student at his Frankston school was killed in a car accident.

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Fit To Drive Foundation was launched in 2002 after 7 young people lost their lives in an 18-month period in Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula. Community members including principals, teachers, parents and students banded together as they recognised the urgent need for a new approach to road safety education. What followed was the introduction of our first program, the F2D Year 11 Workshop.

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