Motor crash injuries do a U-turn

A PROGRAM that teaches driving skills to teens has pointed to a 30 per cent drop in injuries from crashes for those aged 17 to 20 in Sutherland Shire.

The figure compares to a 1 per cent increase in the Sydney region for injuries among the same age group for the period from 2009 to 2011.

The U-Turn The Wheel program started in Sutherland Shire in 2005 and is co-ordinated by Caringbah Rotary Club member Martin Tabone.

It started in Moss Vale after the son of a Rotarian died at 18 in a motor accident in 1998.

The following year the local Rotary club backed a program to help prevent such deaths.

"U-Turn The Wheel provides practical road safety information at a local level to year 11 students," Mr Tabone said.

"[It] addresses risk-taking behaviour in young drivers and encourages them to exercise more control over the decisions they make when driving.

"And it is not about convincing young drivers to simply stay under the speed limit or change their attitude."

U-Turn the Wheel has reached saturation point in Sutherland's local government area. Mr Tabone said by the end of 2009 every year 11 student in the area's 29 schools had completed the one-day program.

In St George, nine out of the area's 12 high schools took part, with plans to reach the remaining schools in 2013.

Already 28 bookings had been made for next year.

Mr Tabone encouraged parents to take part in "teach the teacher" sessions.

Students are addressed by a police highway patrol officer, a paramedic, wheelchair-bound people who received injuries as a result of road accidents and a specialist speaker on drugs and alcohol.

School students were taught about avoiding crashes, distractions, traffic rules and penalties, driver attitude and were given tips on buying a used vehicle plus vehicle maintenance.

Mr Tabone said U-Turn the Wheel ran in conjunction with Sutherland Shire Council.

He said the IMB Community Foundation supported the program.

■ What do you think are the most common errors that young drivers commit?

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