Police programme to mentor young drivers instead of ticketing them changes lives

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A mentoring programme started by Gisborne police to help young people get their driver licence is changing lives, with an 80 per cent pass rate.

Gisborne police are volunteering their own time to mentor teens through a driving programme.
Source: Seven Sharp

Police area commander Sam Aberahama told Seven Sharp his road policing staff were dishing out so many tickets they decided there had to be a better way, and the mentor programme called Nga Ara Pai is the better way.

A third of young drivers are involved in serious crashes, some having failed to learn how to drive properly, largely because they either can't afford lessons or have no one to practice with. 

Mother of two Cossette Vaotuua is finally learning to drive with Mr Aberahama as her mentor after being pulled over by him when she failed to stop at a stop sign while driving with a learners licence. 

Ms Vaotuua said she swore at the officer at the time and now "it's kind of weird driving with him, knowing I abused him".

She wasn't charged or ticketed, but was persuaded her to join the mentor driving programme, and now she's on the road to success.

"I'm really glad that we took the option that we did, because the outcome is huge," Mr Aberahama said.

Co-ordinated by the Passrite Driving School, the volunteer mentors give three drives a week for 10 weeks and 138 people have so far enrolled on the course.

Recently the McInnes Driving School came on board and they also help very low income young drivers, especially those with little children.

Instead of police, they recruit volunteers from other walks of life.

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