MAREEBA State High School year 11 students were given the opportunity to learn valuable skills about road safety as they took part in the annual Rotary Youth Driver Awareness (RYDA) program last Wednesday.
The program was part of Queensland Road Safety Week, an initiative focusing on the variety of dangers that exist when one’s behind the wheel. The RYDA program is of particular importance during Road Safety Week as it includes young men and women who are preparing to get their learner drivers licence and provisional licence.
“This initiative is all about improving road safety for students,” Mareeba Road Policing Unit Officer in Charge John Ridgway said.
“This specific RYDA program is aimed at year 11 students and aims to provide them with a greater understanding of braking distances, safe speeds and overall driver awareness.”
Given these students here are about to either get their learner or provisional licence, it’s crucial that they are best prepared and RYDA is a program to help with that much-needed preparation.
“We need to ensure that these students are ready for when they get behind the wheel,” he said.
Mareeba State High School Police Liaison Officer Matthew Mitchell said a big component of the program was to highlight the dangers that come with risktaking whilst driving.
“Given they’re young drivers, once they become competent they can become somewhat overconfident,” he said.
“So programs such as RYDA are crucial in ensuring that the drivers can modify that risk by being made aware of the number of potentially fatal dangers that come with being behind the wheel.
“We have a confronting video of a young girl who lost her life in Victoria due to a risk she took while driving, and whilst it is tragic, it is important to show these students incidences such
as that to show how dangerous driving can be.
“Being a small community, accidents ripple through the community and we want to do everything we can as police officers to help educate young drivers when we can.”
In addition to the RYDA program, the Mareeba Road Policing Unit also held presentations at Savannah which focused on vulnerable road users as well as at St Thomas’ Primary School which concentrated on bicycle safety.
Mareeba Road Policing Unit’s Senior Constable Dave Saul said while people automatically think of cars and trucks when discussing road safety, they often forget about pedestrians and bike riders.
“This program is a chance for us to get out there and do something from an education and preventative perspective,” he said.
“It also allows us to bring a human element and I think the students really appreciate that – and I think that has been evident as it’s a program that has been really well-received from all involved.
“Hopefully they have learnt something from us and our experiences which we shared with the group.”