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Driving program supports young people on the road
Driving program supports young people on the road

A life-changing Blue Light programme that supports young people to get their driver’s licence is appealing for more volunteers to help get them driving safely on the road.

A driver's licence is something most of us take for granted. However, for many, there are barriers to obtaining a licence that leads some to take the risk and drive without one.

For some their introduction to the justice system is through repeated driving infringements.  With the assistance of Blue Light, many young people have been able to overcome the barriers they have faced in the past to obtain a full driver’s licence.

“We see young people avoiding the risk of fines and benefiting from holding a licence including better access to jobs or training, even having a legitimate form of photographic identification removes barriers that may have otherwise existed in their lives, such as obtaining a bank account or applying for a job,” says Blue Light's CEO Rod Bell.

Without a licence, jobs are not as accessible, appointments become hard to manage and everyday tasks become a burden, particularly in rural areas where there is no form of public transport available.

Even before having to pay the more than $330 in fees, just to sit the licensing tests, the first step of the process requires you to have a birth certificate for identification, this can often be the first barrier people need to overcome. 

For some this is unaffordable or too daunting, causing many to give up before gaining their full licence, which can lead to risky driving behaviour, costly fines, and court appearances.

Blue Light works closely with the police and low decile schools to provide the programme for young people in the Bay of Plenty aged 16-24 to break down these barriers and make obtaining a licence an achievable goal.

The programme takes students through the whole process, from sitting the learner’s test to gaining a full licence.

Blue Light provides safe cars including cameras inside and out, professional driving lessons, endorsed driving instructors that fit within the participants’ schedules to ensure they can continue progressing for the 18+ months it takes to obtain a full driver’s licence. Key to the programme’s survival is volunteers, all of whom undertake a full Police vulnerable children’s vetting and have training from a driver trainer.

Once the programme participants are at a level where they can drive safely, community volunteers, called Navigators, are needed for one to two hours a week to help them practice. Cars are provided, and volunteers help programme participants practice their driving as a parent might. 

“We’ve seen the change this process can make to a young person’s life. We need volunteers to keep this programme going and to be able to expand and offer the programme to as many young people as we can,” says Rod.

If you are over 25 and have held a clean full NZ driver’s licence for two or more years and can spare 1-2 hours each week, we need you.  Full training and support are provided to assist you to work with a young person during the restricted phase of their licence.

If you can help, please email blydn@bluelight.co.nz or phone 021 984 268.