Whangarei teen becomes 500th community driver grad

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

Eighteen year-old swimming instructor, Jade Marsden, from Whangarei is the 500th driver to graduate from the programme which has been running since February 2013. Jade is also the first of seven children in her family to gain her licence.

“This is a great example of what can be done when local communities, volunteers and business work together to make a positive difference for young peoples. This programme is helping young drivers gain experience across a range of conditions and situations, giving the skills and confidence to become safe drivers,” says NZ Transport Agency Road Safety Director Harry Wilson.

The CDMP helps young learner drivers’ aged 16 to 24 years overcome obstacles that prevent them from getting their restricted licence, such as access to a suitable vehicle or an appropriate experienced driver to help them practise.

Mr Wilson says the CDMP is also opening up of employment opportunities for young people like Jade.

“Employers are telling us that not having a driving licence is holding many 16-24 year olds back. This programme is helping to remove the barriers that some young people face in gaining their licence.”

Jade Marsden says she’s stoked to have passed from all those participating on the programme throughout the country.

“Now that I’ve passed, it means that I don’t have to rely on others to get me places and having just started a new job as a swimming instructor at the Whangarei Aquatic Centre, it will make a huge difference to my life. Thanks to People Potential Whangarei, the CDMP coordinators and my mentor instructor, Ed Varley from NZTA, I now have the correct skills and knowledge to make good choices on the road. I’m a much safer driver now,” Jade says.

The CDMP is a joint initiative between the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), The Automobile Association (AA New Zealand) and six communities throughout the country, including Porirua, Te Kuiti, Gisborne, Christchurch, South Auckland and Whangarei.

The programme is also supported by multinationals, Caltex New Zealand, who supply fuel to the value of $100,000 through a national sponsorship arrangement, and carmaker, Hyundai New Zealand, who support three of the programmes with cars for learners to practise in.

Volunteer mentor drivers like Ed Varley partner with the young learners, spending 30 hours with them to foster positive driving habits acting as mentor coaches and supervising the practise driving sessions during the 12 week programme.