Driving scheme hits road in a big way

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Enjoying learner driver theory training are Elizabeth George, Matthew Thomas, (both India), co-ordinator Wendy Hewitt, Sandra Espitia (Colombia), Savann Hooper (New Zealand) and Merinissa Lagmay (Philippines).

A rural driving support scheme has high pass rates and is helping newcomers move towards driving independence.

A third intake of a dozen learners is meeting weekly for theory lessons at Ashburton Learning Centre.

The group enjoys two-hour sessions of theory training over nine weeks and is in week six.

The learners follow in the footsteps of 22 previous scheme participants.

Of those 22, 19 have successfully obtained learner licences. Six have gone further still and now have full or restricted licences.

Scheme co-ordinator Wendy Hewitt said pass rates were higher than targets set.

“We are very happy to have a 90 per cent pass rate for students gaining learner licences.

“We have a 100 per cent success for the four who now have full licences and the two who have restricted licences, which is impressive,” she said.

Mrs Hewitt said the scheme was going well since its introduction last year and a lot of credit should be given to the 20 driving mentors who volunteered their time.

Participants received two free lessons with driving instructor business Driver Training and also a subsidy towards the cost of the learner lesson, she said

The aim of the three-year project is to offer practical help to reduce rural isolation and predominantly targets women.

The programme is free and managed by Rural Support Mid Canterbury in partnership with Safer Ashburton.

Supporters include Advance Ashburton, Lotteries Commission, Lion Foundation, Community Organisation Grant Scheme, Ashburton Licensing Trust and Community Trust of Mid & South Canterbury.