21 Aug
21 August 2017

Manfeild driver course gets thumbs up

THE mother of one of the first graduates of a Manfeild-centred programme readying young drivers for the road has spoken glowingly of the course – as has her daughter.

The ambition of the facility-backed National Driver Training Centre is to see students achieve a restricted licence, associated NCEA credits and even a defensive driving certificate.

The impetus is that school leavers stand a much better chance of gaining a place in the workforce if they hold a driving licence.

Ali Skelton’s daughter Nelly was among Feilding High School students who recently achieved restricted licences from a course at the Feilding facility.

Mum and daughter say the programme was as they hoped it would be – so much more than simply a driving school.

“Teenagers tend to be very eager to move on from their learner to their restricted drivers’ licence, but as parents we are equally anxious to make sure our children have the knowledge and skills that will keep them safe on the road,” Mrs Skelton says.

“When this driving course was offered from the high school, we weighed up the cost with its potential to help our daughter achieve her goal to drive with some independence with our need to ensure her safety.”

Mrs Skelton is satisfied that was achieved and was especially impressed about how the programme reinforced to her 17-year-old that her journey has just begun and that her driving skills will benefit all the more from ongoing advice and guidance from experienced drivers.

“The embedded mentorship was an attractive component of the course as it ensured the focus of the course was not entirely on getting kids on the road,” she says.

“It emphasised the need for adult assistance, which is one of the key messages restricted drivers and their parents receive nowadays, to remember that restricted drivers need our immediate guidance more than ever.”

Nelly’s view was similar. “The course gave me more practical experience on the road and has made me a more safety aware driver.

“It was also good to have guidance from someone other than my parents. Sometimes it’s easier to listen to and absorb information from someone we don’t know.

“As someone who held a learner licence for over a year, the driving course helped to fast track me to the place where I wanted to be. I’m grateful to the instructors, coaches and people associated with the programme and my parents for helping me take part.”

Mrs Skelton liked that Manfeild was the centre of activity, with participants undertaking classroom tuition then getting the chance to learn the fundamentals of driving on the venue’s training area, a safe zone adjacent to the racing circuit that replicates a roadscape in a safe environment.

She was also impressed that the course trainers had ‘real world’ experience.

“We liked their practical hands-on approach and the fact that road safety and driving instructors were supplied by independent service providers.

“Another attractive aspect of the course was that … it did not feel rushed – a student could spend more or less time learning particular skills based on their individual needs.

“Before the course, we had not found the time to organise professional lessons for our daughter so having this included as part of the course was great … our daughter was very pleased to pass her restricted licence at the end of the course.”

Also of appeal was that participants started out with a driving simulator before they progressed to spending time at the wheel of the centre’s training car, a plug-in hybrid Prius, the most advanced version of the world’s best-selling hybrid car. It is believed to be the only EV being used in New Zealand for driver training.

“The simulator experience was something we had never heard of before but it was a real confidence booster before the students drove training vehicles,” Mrs Skelton said.