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18 May 2018

As NSW continues to reel from the summer death toll, rural communities are taking the initiative with increased education for novice drivers now being recognised as a key to a long term reduction in road trauma. 

The Rotary Club of Bega, with local funding from IMB Bank Community Foundation, is continuing its partnership with industry leader, Road Safety Education Limited (RSE) to bring the award winning youth road safety program RYDA to approximately 400 students from eight local high schools during May. 

NSW Roads Minister, Melinda Pavey, says one of the biggest challenges remains on country roads, which accounted for almost 70 per cent of the State’s road toll last year. 

“If you live in the country, you are four times more likely to die in a road crash than if you live in metro NSW,” Pavey adds. 

Being held at the Sapphire Coast Go Kart Track from May 15-17, the RYDA program has been embedded in the Bega community for 11 years and has had over 4,500 students attend the program over this time.

RSE, a national not for profit organisation, is the provider of the RYDA program which runs at around 90 venues across Australia and New Zealand and has seen over half a million students attend the program to date.

RYDA is a series of practical and powerful workshops for high school students that challenge students to change the way they think about road safety and lay the foundation for safe road use throughout their lives,” said Greg Rappo, RSE Program Director.

RYDA focuses on building and increasing social competency and resilience and motivating low-risk behavior. Trained facilitators work with students to develop and practice personalised strategies which will help them respond positively to challenges on the road, both as drivers and highly influential passengers.”

“This education doesn’t come from driving lessons or the school classroom,” Mr Rappo said.

RYDA is made possible through the strong support of corporate partners, BOC, Toyota, Bridgestone and MTAA Super as well as community partner, Rotary.

In 2017, the Bega Rotary Club received funding from IMB Bank Community Foundation to implement the RYDA program.

IMB Bank CEO, Robert Ryan, praised the Bega Rotary Club and the RYDA initiative for working with young drivers to improve their safety.

“The incidence of road trauma and deaths has a huge impact on our communities, from fatalities, to long-term serious injuries to the families left behind when there is a tragic motor vehicle crash.

“Programs like RYDA are vital to educate young drivers and IMB Bank Community Foundation is proud to fund these training sessions on the Far South Coast,” Mr Ryan said.

Eric Johnston, RYDA Co-ordinator in Bega says, “One of the great things about RYDA is that with the support of local Rotary Clubs, it can be run in all communities, by local road safety and education professionals, including the police”.

“Young people continue to be over represented in road crash statistics. In fact, one young person dies on Australian roads almost every day. And for every life lost, another 20 are forever changed due to serious injuries. The most dangerous time for any young road user is in the first six to 12 months of being a solo driver.” he said.

The RYDA program runs in Bega from 15 – 17 May – media opportunities are available with various local schools attending from Bega, Bombala, Eden Marine, Jindabyne, Malacoota, Monaro and Pambula Beach.

Further information can be found at www.rse.org.au

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