The impact of road trauma has been all-to-real in our community recently.
Encouragingly, the number of lives lost on our roads continues to fall each year, but every life lost is tragic. Educating drivers in their early years can be a key factor in reducing the toll over time, and our coast Rotary clubs are passionate as ever about taking some action.
The combined Rotary Clubs of Noosa, Noosa Heads, Noosa Daybreak and Cooroy joined forces again last week, assisting in taking 94 Coolum Beach State High School students through the RYDA (Rotary Youth Driver Awareness) Program at The House with No Steps at Doonan.
The program sees students taking one day out of school, to receive practical road safety information targeting attitude and awareness of young drivers and their passengers. RYDA targets 16-18-year-old students and includes six interactive sessions delivered to small student groups covering topics such as hazards and distractions, speed and stopping distance, vehicle safety, fatigue and experiences of a crash survivor. RYDA Committee Chairman, Geoff Bone said if even one life can be saved from this training then it’s all worthwhile.
“Since 2009, the combined Rotary clubs in our area have held 53 program days. Year 11 students from 8 local high schools and colleges have attended. This year’s aim was to reach 850 students making a total of 5,000 for the 10 years we have been running the program.” Mr Bone shared.
Whilst attendance by the schools is commendable, RYDA is only attracting about 81% of the Year 11 enrolled students in our local schools. There is a lot more work to do. The aim is to have every Year 11 student attend.
“We must impress on all parents the importance of the program.” Mr Bone said. “This full day driver awareness program is free so there is no reason why every enrolled student can’t attend.”
In the bigger picture, since its inauguration some 18 years ago, over 550,000 students from more 600 schools have participated in RYDA Australia-wide.
For its part, the Marcoola Community Bank branch of Bendigo Bank stepped up again in partnership with its Cooroy, Tewantin and Pomona branches in collective support of RYDA committing a further $3,000 to the program in 2018. This financial backing assists Rotary in attracting more attendees from our region.
Marcoola branch manager, Kerryn Vincart said the Community Banks started supporting the RYDA program seven years ago and remains fervent in its support.
“This program provides some of the most important lessons students can have in their senior schooling years. Our Community Bank branches continue to believe in RYDA, and our Marcoola branch is particularly proud to provide this sponsorship to Coolum High School. It also provides us with another opportunity to partner with Rotary and highlight the great work they do in our community,” Kerryn said.
To learn more about the RYDA program, go to www.rotarynoosaheads.org.au/RYDA. or contact Geoff Bone on 0427 708 928 or Tess Alexandroff on 0407 377 210. Rotary also extends its thanks to Queensland Government Community Road Safety and to Bridgestone for their TV advertising support.
First Aid services were provided by Noosa Surf Club and Tewantin Noosa RSL provided their community bus free of charge. Finally, the local SES do their part in providing traffic control on the roads closed for the students putting their training into practice.