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Vehicle safety times three.


Safer Vehicles is a DoT initiative

Cire Community school, as an early adopter of cutting-edge road safety education has held the Safer Vehicles program for the past two years. The school runs the program at three of its campuses each year following the learner permit education program run by Linda Jane of Changing Gears.


The logic behind this is that the students go through the Changing Gears program and obtain their learner permit, learning how to drive safely.


Following that, the next most effective thing for young people to learn is how to purchase a safe vehicle to drive.



Students gather around Mechanic Tristan as he explains things to look for when popping the hood of a safe vehicle at Cire Community School, Berwick Campus.


This is in line with the Victorian Department of Transport (DoT) road safety initiatives, for which schools and community organisations around the state can apply for funding. These programs have a positive impact on road statistics and were based on the recommendations made by a Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) report entitled “Vehicle Safety And Young Drivers.” This was completed in collaboration with all road safety bodies throughout New Zealand and Australia.


A few changes can make a huge difference


As students learn in the course, up to sixty-two percent of Victorian fatalities involve a vehicle with a poor safety rating. Young, country drivers in vehicles over fifteen years old with a poor safety rating are fifteen times more likely to die on our roads. But if you change the things you can about that equation; the vehicle age and safety rating, the crash risk falls by eighty-five percent.


Linda and Nikki do the safety dance


Armed with such facts and figures, trainer Linda Jane went to the Cire Community School's Yarra Junction, Lilydale and Berwick campuses to teach students all about Safer Vehicles.


Assistant trainer Nikki Thompson, who attended the Lilydale and Berwick programs was there to absorb facts and provide support.


“There’s such a lot to learn about Vehicle Safety and practical things that young people can do to ensure their driving experience is safe, even on a budget,” she commented.


Who wants to look like Graham?


Linda introduced students from each of the campuses to Graham, a construct built in collaboration with an artist, a trauma surgeon and a road safety expert.


Graham was a pictorial representation of how we might look if we evolved to survive car crashes.


After investigating his unique adaptive features, students from all campuses wholeheartedly agreed they did not want to evolve to look like Graham!







Meet Graham, the construct man genetically evolved to survive a crash. (Created from a road safety collaboration.)


After a show of hands as to who didn’t want to look like Graham, Linda challenged the class.


“Right then,” she said, “how can we ensure that the cars we buy do what Graham is evolved to do?”


Five stars is best


Many students had ideas, some of them humorous. Trainee Nikki disclosed to students that she and Linda had both been in traumatic accidents that had required significant rehabilitation.


“Yes,” Linda agreed, “Nikki, what was the safety rating of the car you were in when you had your accident?” she asked.

“One star,” Nikki replied.

“And what is the safety rating of your new car?” Linda asked.

“Five star,” Nikki announced, “and I feel so much safer!”


Students asked what kind of car Nikki now drove and her answer was, “A 2022 Toyota Yaris Cross.”


Many students pointed out that this might be a bit unreachable for their budgets and savings plans.


You can have a safe car on a budget


“Yes, but you can get a car with a really good safety rating on a budget, and it will often be cheaper than the second-hand models with poorer safety ratings,” Linda explained.


Linda showed the students how to do a comparative analysis and how to research the safety features of each vehicle. Many of the students enjoyed putting their parent’s vehicles through that analysis and were quite surprised at some of the outcomes.


Linda also explained the Transport Accident Commission and its purpose, the various types of insurance available, roadworthy certificates, and what to check for mechanically when buying a car.


The ebb and flow of learning


Students, came and went in each class as it proceeded. Some were called out or decided it was not for them.


“That’s ok,” trainer Linda explained, “even if they do not complete the entire course, they will pick up valuable information for however long they stay in class. If they know which website to check their car on, what an ANCAP safety rating is or what type of insurance to buy, then they know more than they did before.”


Tristan a hit


Mechanic Tristan was a hit with the students, and virtually everyone who had signed up for the course went outside with him to take a look under the hood of his car.


“It’s a pleasure to be here,” Tristan commented, “When I was a young tucker, I was a bit of a hoon, and drove some terrible cars. I wish I’d had something like this to help me make better decisions.”


At the end of each of the three programs, attendees walked away with a resource book full of helpful information. Answers to questions like, what is essential to have in a car? (Anti-lock braking systems, for example.) And, what might be a nice to have? (Example, tinted side windows). They left with a head full of information on buying a safer vehicle.



Students gather around mechanic Tristan as he explains key safety features when popping the hood of a vehicle at Cire Community School, Yarra Junction Campus.


Participants happy to have the information


Berwick attendee Joanne clapped her hands when the program finished, “Thanks so much,” she said, “I had a lovely time and I now know how important it is to buy a safe car to drive.”


Changing Gears staff would also like to thank Sandra Bucovaz and Karen Swankie of Cire Community School for having the foresight to recognise the great need for this information in the young driving community. And for helping the Changing Gears team have a tremendous, positive effect on road safety in Victoria.


Possibilities open up


Owning a safe vehicle is such an important step for disadvantaged young people. Classes are supportive, students and trainers inspire each other, showing the way for young people to experience success in selecting a safe vehicle to drive.


Click here to subscribe and find out about delivery of the Safer Vehicles program.


Call 1800 766 361 to find out more about Safer Vehicles.


Tags: #Cire, #Cire Community School, #Cire Yarra Junction, #Cire Lilydale, #Cire Berwick #community education program #safer vehicles #registration, #vehicle insurance, #road safety, #student safety program, #SaferVehicles.

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