Rotary Club of Toowoomba South Inc.

RYDA Program

Rotary Youth Driver Awareness Program

Road Safety Education Limited (RSE) is a not for profit organisation committed to providing evidence-based road safety education that supports the development of a road safety culture across the generations.

At the heart of our programs lies RYDA – a school partnership which supports teachers on the journey as they provide their students with the tools and understanding they need to see themselves as active, responsible road citizens. RYDA features a highly engaging and memorable one-day workshop which front-loads students’ understanding of road safety and gives them the tools, habits and motivation to take action and stay safe on our roads a both drivers and passengers throughout their lives.

RYDA'S Mission

To provide first quality road safety information to youth. To help ensure that when young people commence driving they have had the best road safety education possible.

The Beginning

In July 2000, the Hills district of Sydney suffered a devastating loss when four teenage boys lost their lives in a horrendous car crash on Old Northern Road. The accident occurred at what is considered to be a mild bend in the road when the car, driven by a 17 year old who had held his provisional license for just three weeks, veered onto the wrong side of the road and collided with a four-wheel drive. The car holding the teenagers, which police estimate to have been travelling at 110 kilometres per hour in a 60 kilometre per hour zone, was virtually torn in two.

Shocked by the senseless loss of such young lives, the Hills Rotary clubs set out to help avoid a repetition of this appalling accident in a practical way by establishing and sponsoring a youth driver awareness programme.

A public meeting was held in August 2000 where local Rotary clubs, the Salvation Army, the RTA, local police, councils, schools, businesses, Road Safety offices and community groups were well represented. Also attending the meeting was Rotarian, Bruce Angus who had successfully run a small country-focused driver awareness program in the Wingecarribee area called “U-Turn the Wheel”.

A Committee was formed to develop and adopt a suitable program for roll-out in Sydney. The curriculum and session plans were carefully constructed and refined in close collaboration with the Department of Education and Training, the Department of Transport, the Police Department, the Department of Health and the Department of Fair Trading.

The six session program was first introduced in the beginning of 2001 at the Honda Australia Roadcraft Training site in St Ives, Sydney. Approximately 1,200 Year 11 students from six schools in the Hills area attended the program in its inaugural year.

Now over 150,000 students have participated in the RYDA programme, held in venues all across Australia.

RYDA on the Darling Downs

At the beginning of 2009 local Rotary clubs formed the Rotary Darling Downs RYDA Committee, and preparations began to offer the programme to all high schools on the Darling Downs, and Gatton. Local resolve in this regard was strengthened by the dreadful accident at Highfields. In that year, with the support of a grant from NRMA, the programme was run at the Oakey Soccer Grounds, using Soccer Club facilities (the former drive-in theatre) and a couple of large hired tents. Council and Police support allowed the closure of Hamlyn Road for the Braking Distance demonstrations. RYDA was presented to students from three high schools; Centenary Heights, Harristown, and Oakey.

In 2010 RYDA moved to Oakey Showgrounds. Four high schools attended, and the programme has ran for three days. In 2011 two more high schools attended, and the programme was also be presented at Dalby, well supported by the Dalby Rotary Club.

In 2012 Chinchilla State High School joined the programme, the event being presented at the Chinchilla Show Grounds. Local support was provided by Chinchilla Rotary Club.

The Current Programme

In Toowoomba the programme is currently presented at the Clifford Park Race Track, in much improved facilities. The Turf Club provides four rooms, at a reduced rental, and the Braking Distance Demonstration it presented in the sealed car park.

Eventually, for Toowoomba high schools, the programme will be presented at Toowoomba Show Ground, using the facilities being developed by the Royal Agricultural Society of Queensland in their Drive 4 Life initiative.

The Darling Downs Committee is gradually accumulating the facilities necessary to present RYDA without external support. These facilities will include a trailer to transport the RYDA equipment to any location on the Downs where it is desired.

UPDATE: The trailer has now been acquired

The cost to students is held at $15 per student, with the transport to the venue being picked up by the high school. In the order of $15 more added to student costs. RYDA is supported centrally by BOC Gases. In Queensland more support is provided by Suncorp. Locally, Wippell’s Autos provide a vehicle to support Toowoomba high school events, and Black Toyota Oakey supports the local high school in towns on the Western Downs. Rotarians from Toowoomba, Dalby, and Chinchilla organise the events, and run the programme on the day. RYDA is presented by personnel skilled and qualified in their field. The Queensland Police, paraplegia organisations, the Queensland Ambulance Service, and qualified driving instructors provide the face to face presentations to the students. RYDA received the 2009 Queensland Road Safety Award; valued endorsement from the State Government, and the Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety. During 2010 the Queensland Police formally endorsed the RYDA programme.

In 2013 the RYDA programme was presented to 50,000 students nationwide, and to 700 students on the Downs.

In 2014 the programme will be presented to 1300 students on the Downs.

Originally the equipment necessary to run the programme was obtained on a beg or borrow basis. With support from participating Rotary clubs, and a grant of $5,000 from Toowoomba South, All electronic equipment, laptops and projectors, and some of the desired signage was procured.

The RYDA Committee has just been advised that a gaming grant for $12,973 has been approved. This grant will allow the Committee to purchase all outstanding equipment. Primarily road safety equipment to ensure student safety in the Braking Distance demonstrations, and to support road closures; and all desired signage. The grant will also cover the purchase of a 'walk-in' pantechnicon trailer to transport all equipment to the various venues that are used.

The Sessions Presented

Session 1: Stopping Distances.

Students have the opportunity to compare what they think they know about the distance it takes a vehicle to stop with the actual stopping distance. Students are shown the impact of differing speed, reaction time, and vehicle traction on the length of time that it takes to stop a vehicle.

They are given the opportunity to travel in a vehicle, driven by a licensed driving instructor, as well a to observe from outside. The importance of the condition of the vehicle is emphasised along with the impact of road conditions. Presented on the Downs by TK's Driving School, with a car provided by Wippell's Autos (Toowoomba), and Black Toyota (venues west of Toowoomba).

Session 2: Crash Survivor.

A powerful presentation by a crash survivor who has brain or spinal injury as a result of a crash (not an 'accident'). The session reinforces to a student that car crashes can leave a permanent trauma for the survivor, their family, and the community at large.

Session 3: My Wheels.

Being safe on the road involves more than just attitude. It also concerns the type of vehicle in which young people are travelling. At the beginning of this session students are given a blank poster and an unlimited budget and are asked to design their perfect car. The results almost always include items such as neon lights, stereos, and mag wheels. Rarely do students design a car with many, if any, safety features. In this session the facilitator leads a group discussion helping students to identify what a safe car looks like, how to research their options before purchase, and how to make sure that the car they are considering is in good condition. The session covers such topics as ANCAP safety ratings, safety features such as ABS brakes and traction control, car maintenance and safety checks, and insurance and registration.

Session 4: Police.

An open discussion between students and a Police Officer from Traffic Branch, this session gives students the opportunity to ask questions and hear about the role of Police in motor vehicle crashes, common offences, and the penalties that come along with them. The themes for discussion are framed around a powerful film which is shown at the beginning of the session. The film tells the very real and raw story of a vibrant young woman taken too soon, as told by family and friends still learning to cope with the loss, and make sense of her death. There is no gore, no crash scenes, no blood, no mayhem - but the very real consequences of road trauma.

Session 5: Plan B.

An interactive workshop focusing on the impact that alcohol, drugs, and fatigue have on driving ability. Through small group work and student presentations, students identify planning strategies for travelling safely. even when their original plans go wrong and they need to implement Plan B. It is hoped that conversations led by the students in this session will help to develop a culture of pre-planning for unexpected situations by challenging their ideas about the role of alcohol, medications, or fatigue in car crashes. On the Downs this session is presented by the Ambulance Service.

Session 6: Hazards, Distractions, and Risks.

A high energy session aimed at familiarising students with the most common crashes involving young people, and how to prepare to avoid or minimise their impact. Together, students identify distractions that they agree that they can control or remove in order to prepare them better for circumstances outside their control. This part of the session explores the role of mobile telephones, passengers, music, etc. The session is presented with the aid of video footage and involves students taking part in several fun 'hazard perception' tests. This session is presented by TK's Driving School. The whole programme is presented around the theme 'your choices', and the consequences of poor decisions.