Founded in 2008, the Keys2drive program has given hundreds of thousands of young Australians free driving lessons – but with a serious blow to road safety, the program will soon reach the end of the road.
A scheme created to subsidize driving lessons for young Australians – some of whom are struggling on the battle road – is being phased out after 14 years.
The Australian Automobile Association – the organization representing the NRMA, RACV, RACQ, RAA, RAC, RACT and AANT – announced it will be ending the Keys2drive scheme without the federal government seeking funding beyond June 2023.
Keys2Drive gave learner drivers access to a free lesson with a professional driving instructor to stop bad driving behavior from parents being passed on to their children and reduce fatalities and injuries among young drivers, who are overrepresented in road accident statistics.
“The Keys2drive program has delivered thousands of subsidized driving lessons,” the AAA wrote in a statement.
“But unfortunately, multiple independent assessments are now showing that it may not have delivered the measurable improvements in road safety that we were all hoping for.”
Access to the program ends on March 31, 2023.
It is estimated that Keys2drive has helped more than 600,000 people since its inception in 2008 and has cost approximately $4 million annually in federal funds.
“This is how you ensure good traffic safety,” said Peter Khoury, spokesman for the NRMA.
“You introduce policies or initiatives, you look for innovative ways to make our roads and drivers safer, and then you review progress. And the review that was carried out showed that there is probably a better way,” Mr Khoury said Drive.
“We are satisfied with this approach. We believe in the process and this is just one example of how that process works,” he added.
Keys2drive is believed to have helped provide driving lessons to low-income households, although state and territory governments often provide similar support to disadvantaged community members.
Charities are also offering help, with the Uniting Church’s 120 Countdown program available for those in South West Sydney and the central north coast of NSW, and The Salvation Army’s Learn To Drive program available in parts of NSW, Queensland and Western Australia is offered.
In Victoria, the Traffic Accident Commission (TAC) has the L2P program with up to seven free professional driving lessons – in addition to a mentor and access to a vehicle.
But while these programs are primarily designed to help people get their driver’s license, Keys2drive’s focus has been on reducing road-related fatalities and injuries among young drivers.
The NRMA says it will now seek to work with the AAA to find ways to provide learner driver education to improve road safety.
“The AAA looks forward to working with the Commonwealth to design, develop and fund new programs that can deliver measurable improvements in road safety and help meet Australia’s ambitious goals for reducing traffic trauma,” the organization wrote in an explanation.
“The AAA is strongly committed to reducing Australia’s deteriorating road tolls and supports the Australian Government’s stated goal of halving the national road fatality rate by 50 per cent by 2030.”
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