Rotary's RYDA program saving lives

The Rotary Clubs of the Illawarra have been committed to presenting Road Safety Training for over 15 years to Year 11 and some Year 10 students from schools as far south as Kiama to Bulli in the north. 

The program started as “U-turn the Wheel”, moving after two years to Rotary Youth Driver Awareness – RYDA.

Thursday, October 26, was the last day for this year’s program which has been run, flexibly, over eight weeks to meet the students’ commitment to exams, school and the school holidays.

This year’s program has touched the lives of 1600 students from Oak Flats to Bulli High Schools.

RYDA volunteers: Ken Potter from the Rotary Club of West Wollongong with Brian Reid and Debbie Petreski, from RC Wollongong.

RYDA volunteers: Ken Potter from the Rotary Club of West Wollongong with Brian Reid and Debbie Petreski, from RC Wollongong.

The learning objectives for students include:

Understanding road risks and the long-term life consequences of a crash;

Identifying crash factors and learning how they are preventable;

Appreciating how personal factors affect risk;

Developing personal strategies and plans, looking at self-monitoring of actions long term; and

Seeing driving as a social responsibility and recognising protective measures.

RYDA involves six sessions:

  1. Stopping Distances: Demonstrates the distance it takes to stop a vehicle travelling at different speeds, highlighting the huge impact an extra 10km/h can have. Students have the opportunity to participate, as passengers, in a vehicle driven by a licensed driving instructor.
  1. Hazards, Distractions & Risks:  A high energy session familiarising students with common crash types and how to avoid or minimise their impact.
  1. Plan B: Alcohol, Drugs and Fatigue:  An interactive workshop focusing on the impact that alcohol, drugs and fatigue have on driving ability.
  1. Road Choices:  A discussion, routinely led by a Police Officer on consequences of poor choices on the road, from the tragic human toll to financial and legal ramifications.
  1. Crash Survivor:  A powerful presentation by a person who has a brain or spinal injury as a result of a vehicle crash.
  1. My Wheels:  Students learn about vehicle safety, covering such topics as ABS brakes, car maintenance and insurance.

RYDA Illawarra Chair, Ken Potter, supported by Marilyn Phillips, both Rotarians from the Rotary Club of West Wollongong, plus a representative from each of the eight Illawarra Clubs help support the setup and delivery of the program on each of the 12 days.

Ken has been part of the program since inception, followed shortly afterwards by Marilyn. 

Life-saving advice: Illawarra high school students take part in a RYDA session with a driving instructor earlier this year.

Life-saving advice: Illawarra high school students take part in a RYDA session with a driving instructor earlier this year.

When asked why they were so committed, they shared:  “If I can save at least one life, I am making a difference”. 

Both explained details of the program, including the exercise where students were asked to estimate the stopping distance of a vehicle. On completion they were always quite shocked that their estimate was a lot less than expected!

The following website http://www.rse.org.au/ provides details about the program. For more information about Rotary,  contact Dot Hennessy on 0412 120 314 or dothennessy@gmail.com.

Australian Rotary Clubs are part of an international network of business, professional and community leaders who strive to make the world a better place through practical efforts.