Interviews with Victoria Police

Leading Senior Constable Deneen Ritchie – Frankston

1. How long have you been presenting Fit to Drive programs?

I think I have been presenting Fit 2 Drive, almost, since the inception of the program, so many, many years.

2. What is your motivation for being involved in road safety education for young people?

I became involved with the program to help prevent road death and trauma.  As I say in my presentations, I have been in the Police Force for over 35 years and often am asked ‘What is the hardest part of your job?”  My reply is “giving a death notification – telling someone that their Mother, Father, Son, Daughter, someone they love is not coming home and this is normally due to road trauma”.

3. What’s one thing you hope young people take away from your presentations for Fit to Drive programs?

I hope the young people take away from my presentations are that it’s ok to say no, stand up for what they believe and have their voice heard when they are trying to make good choices and decisions, either as drivers or passengers and every aspect of their life. 

4. What advice would you give an education provider or community organisation who is interested in hosting a Fit to Drive program?

I would, and do, encourage every school and learning facility in Victoria to host this program as part of their curriculum.  Road death/trauma is a whole community concern and we need to all work together to help reduce the statistics, every little bit counts.

It’s the ‘Starfish’ effect, we can’t save them all, but if we save one, then it’s  all worthwhile.

Leading Senior Constable Peter Scherer – Hume

1. How long have you been presenting Fit to Drive programs?

Since inception of the program back in the days when first implemented by Graham Spencer and Gavin McDonald (wow 2006 or before then?). It’s been a privilege and I’ve learnt so much.

2. What is your motivation for being involved in road safety education for young people?

At the time part of my role as a Youth Resource officer, also my passion to support, educate and be a positive role model to young people. Also overrepresentation of young people in Road Trauma, so this needs to be addressed and working in partnerships with other organisations such as Fit to Drive and FRV is a great way to show young people that we all together and have an important role to play to reduce the impact of road trauma.

3. What’s one thing you hope young people take away from your presentations for Fit to Drive programs?

Understanding that a driver’s license is a privilege and not a right and the choices they make can have a massive impact on the direction people’s life can take – both positive and negative. We all have a role to play to be as road safety ambassadors including the young people partaking in the F2D program.

4. What advice would you give an education provider or community organisation who is interested in hosting a Fit to Drive program?

Don’t think about it, just make enquires and do it, seek support if you need financial assistance to implement.  Victoria Police are proud of being a partner with the Fit to Drive Foundation as we know they continue to evolve with current trends and evidence based best practices in relation to road safety education.  All educators working with young people or general community have an obligation to keep young people safe both within and outside the education system.

Leading Senior Constable Diane Bloom and Senior Sergeant Aaron Heriot – Melbourne East

1. How long have you been presenting Fit to Drive programs?

Aaron and I have been at Melbourne East for ten and seven years respectively and have been doing the training for Fit to Drive for five years.

2. What is your motivation for being involved in road safety education for young people?

As we know there are a number of factors that contribute to lives lost on our roads. We are engaged in education and preventive police operations and our part as police youth resource officers is to provide education to prospective young drivers. Police look at trends in collision statistics and enforce traffic laws as a deterrent to prevent unsafe behaviour by drivers.

Recent operations have focussed on excessive speed, but also targeted the other high risk causes of road trauma which are driver distraction, fatigue, impaired driving (alcohol and/or drug), and restraint non-compliance in both metropolitan and rural locations.

3. What’s one thing you hope young people take away from your presentations for Fit to Drive programs?

We would like to think that we have provided some thoughts about safe practises and pre planning when young people are driving or passengers in a motor vehicle. Safety is paramount and knowing young drivers and passengers can call someone if they don’t feel comfortable in situations that might put their or others’ lives at risk. We want young people to think more broadly about the risks of unsafe driving, not only the risk of serious injury or fatality but also the financial and social implications.

4. What advice would you give an education provider or community organisation who is interested in hosting a Fit to Drive program?

Having a multi-agency approach to the training provides up to date information and the support from peer facilitators delivering the program is imperative the get the safety messages across to the young drivers. Fit to Drive is a unique and interactive experience for young people, many of whom are learning to drive. The peer-to-peer approach is very effective in engaging a young audience as young people can relate to their peers and are more likely to retain information.         

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