Mike Stevens | Jul 23, 2010

Driver training is back in the spotlight this week, with a new survey by the Confederation of Australian Motor Sports revealing that 72 percent of its members want to see driver education made compulsory in schools.

Adding support to a call for standardised national driver testing by Police Federation of Australia boss Mark Burgess, only two percent of the CAMS respondents believe a standardised young driver education program should not become a fixture in school curriculums.

"Every week young Australians are killed or injured on the roads; a standardised driver education program specifically designed for pre-learner drivers, such as CAMS Ignition Program, will not only improve driving attitudes and knowledge before they take to the roads, it will save lives," CAMS President Andrew Papadopoulos said.

Surveying 1999 of its 52,000 members, the results also showed that 82 percent of respondents believe that driver education, rather than increasing penalties (two percent) and increasing the legal driving age (five percent), will have a greater impact on reducing the road toll.

Around 25 percent of respondents believe driver training should be made optional for students rather than compulsory, while 78 percent said they think young drivers should be taught to drive a car in a controlled environment before they reach legal age.

"This shows the motor sport community believes past attempts to reduce road tolls have not been successful and a focus on widespread Commonwealth funded education is needed," Mr Papadopoulos said.

In response to the overwhelming call for an driver education overhaul, CAMS has launched the Ignition Program, which it is pushing the Federal Government to introduce to all secondary schools.

Mr Papadopoulos said the the program will give pre-learner students the chance to drive a vehicle and gain invaluable experience before obtaining their learner's permit.

"A generational attitude shift must be implemented immediately, starting with our children. Teaching a young driver about road safety and changing their attitude is what the newly introduced CAMS Ignition Program will do."

The Ignition Program adds a degree of expert training to the parent-guided experience that young drivers gain on the road - an approach that former V8 Supercar champion Mark Skaife is also campaigning for.

"With the best intention in the world, too many parents pass on their own bad habits. We have to avoid that, which is why I believe we need to move to professional driver trainers in Australia," Skaife said in a recent television special.

A recent NRMA survey showed similar results, with 51 percent of parents saying they are more concerned with making their child's time behind the wheel a "positive experience", while only 38 percent of respondents felt that a strong knowledge of the correct driving techniques was important.

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