VISITING police cells, being cut out of a smashed car, standing before a judge and hearing from those working on the front line after a car crash will form part of the confronting, eye-opening experience of participants in a new programme to address dangerous driving behaviour.
Initiated by Southland Hospital trauma nurse co-ordinator Rebecca Coats, The Right Track is being launched in the region for the first time.
The programme, which had been delivered in Auckland, Northland, Waikato and Christchurch, was proven to reduce recidivism rates by 80%.
It is aimed at young people aged from 15 to 25 who have committed driving offences, such as speeding, drink driving and driving carelessly or recklessly causing injury.
Programme co-ordinator John Finch, of EDUK8 Charitable Trust, said the programme was designed to teach drivers how to make better choices, not just around their driving but across all areas of their lives.
“We want to target those who have committed an offence once, as they have a higher chance of changing their behaviour than repeat offenders.”
The programme involved nine sessions over five to eight weeks, providing a variety of experiences designed to make the offender understand the effect of their behaviour and help them make better decisions in the future.
Participants would visit police cells, hear from a person with a traumatic brain injury, experience being cut out of a smashed car, face a judge in a mock sentencing, and attend presentations from trauma team about what happens in a crash and what happens after a fatal crash from the perspective of a funeral director/mortician.
The pilot programme was being launched in Southland thanks to funding secured from the ILT Foundation and Community Trust of Southland, along with support from the New Zealand Police, Road Safety Southland, Ministry of Justice, Southern District Health Board, Department of Corrections, Fire and Emergency Services and Macdonald and Weston Funeral Home.
Mr Finch said participants would be referred to The Right Track through various means, including the probation service, court, police diversion and family group conferences.
Completing the programme was not voluntary, but rather would be a condition of offenders’ sentencing, he said.