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Lowndes backs driver training

Lowndes says driver education should start in schools and should continue throughout a driver's life.

He's joined by a majority of his fellow V8 Supercar drivers and other motorsport identities.

"I'm lucky enough as a race car driver to be constantly learning new skills," he says. "But the general public just use a vehicle to go to work and holidays and the habits they learn at the start they carry through life and never get any more training. Current fines and penalties are not working as they should on repeat offenders. They need education."

His sentiments are mirrored in a survey of racers in all forms of four-wheeled motor sport released today by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS).

The CAMS survey of 1999 members found 59 per cent in favour of education as the way to deal with bad driving records.

CAMS president Andrew Papadopoulos said the survey found one in five wants tougher driving restrictions for repeat offenders, 9 per cent think jail is the solution and 6 per cent say they should face tougher fines.

"The Australian motor sport community is spot on with this," he said.

"People who continuously break the law need to prove they can be safe drivers before they are allowed back on the roads.

"A structured and controlled driving education course is the perfect way to help make sure these repeat offenders do the right thing.  And prison on its own is not always the answer, because as soon as the offender exits, their driving skills will be exactly the same as when they entered.

"We are strict on learner and P plate drivers when they are first starting out, but as soon as they achieve their full licence, maintaining the driving education aspect is all but forgotten."

Lowndes says driver education should start in schools and should continue throughout a driver's life.

"We get an education for life, but if people want to drive a road car, you just pass a car test and that's it," he said.

"There should be ongoing education throughout our driving lives. City people don't learn how to drive in the country and compensate for bad roads, wildlife and wandering livestock and country people don't learn how to deal with traffic and pedestrians."

CAMS recently launched a young driver education program, CAMS Ignition Program, which focuses on a learner driver's attitudes.

"We give young people the chance to drive a vehicle and gain invaluable experience before obtaining their learner's permit," Papadopoulos said.

"This initiative will enable young people to develop skills and attitudes which will enhance their knowledge, but more importantly, reduce their crash risk on public roads."

He called for the federal government to introduce and fund a national rollout of the course to all secondary schools.

Mark Hinchliffe
Contributing Journalist
Mark Hinchliffe is a former CarsGuide contributor and News Limited journalist, where he used his automotive expertise to specialise in motorcycle news and reviews.
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