Love that new car smell
By Paul O'Rourke
The addition of three new Hyundai I30 vehicles has made learning to drive a much more luxurious pursuit.
Two of the cars were provided by the State Government, the third through various public donations and a $10,000 gift from Life Christian Church at Ulverstone.
Savouring the unmistakable new car smell, learner Sarah Cartledge takes her place behind the wheel at the handover ceremony in the car park of the Devonport Chaplaincy offices.
Sarah, 21, who is almost ready to take her driving test, said she would have had no hope of getting her licence without the learner driver mentor program.
More than driving
Sarah, who lives in supported youth accommodation, said she was thankful for her driving mentor, Lexie Nichols, with whom she has shared the road for about 80 hours in the past 12 months. A strong friendship built on trust has developed between the pair as they share life and the highway.
Sarah says having her licence will help with employment opportunities as she works towards a traineeship in the accounting and administration sectors.
Lexie said it was enormously satisfying to see a learner get their licence. She joined the program two years ago, having retired from work at East Devonport Carpet Factory. She has taught her own three children to drive, as well as friends and grandchildren, and now young adults who don't have access to a car or can't afford lessons.
"It's a great privilege to be involved in a program that gives enormous satisfaction and opportunities when someone gets their licence," she said.
Lexie is one of 26 mentors assisting 30 learners in the North West.
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Michael Ferguson, said teaching others to drive was "one of the most generous things you can do".
"It's also a very Tasmanian thing to do.
"You must be very patient and very enduring.
"Most accidents are the result of bad decisions by drivers. Ninety young people under 25 die or are seriously injured each year on Tasmanian roads."
The Devonport learner driver program is one of 16 across the State, logging a total of 11,000 driving hours and helping 74 learners gain their licence last year.