Driver’s ed. course launched

Privately-funded training programme

Frustrated by the lack of a driver’s education programme in Cayman’s public schools, a group of concerned residents has decided to begin privately-funded training for student drivers.

The course, which is a joint effort between the Flowers Sea Swim, MattSafe, and the Cayman Islands Road Safety Advisory Committee, is scheduled to begin Saturday, 25 August.

Anyone who turned 16 years old as of January 2007 is eligible to sign up for the course. Organisers said they didn’t want to exclude anyone, but noted the course was set up for teen drivers.

Aileen Samuel with the road safety committee said discussions about hosting the programme started early this year.

‘We have to start somewhere,’ Ms Samuel said. ‘If you…wait on the government we could be sitting here 10 years from now.’

It was unclear whether organising groups would be able to keep the driver’s education courses going without eventual financial assistance from government, but Ms Samuel was confident about hosting the first 15-week course with private funds.

The classes will be held once a week on Saturday mornings from 9am to 12 noon. Those signing up for the course are asked to contact Ms Samuel by 20 August. The maximum class size is 30 people.

‘We want it to go on indefinitely, but we’ll start this (class) off first,’ Ms Samuel said. ‘We may only get 10 people but we’ll still go with it.’

Ms Samuel said young drivers would receive theoretical, practical and mechanical driver’s training during the course.

‘That will stand them in good stead for the GDL (graduated driver’s licence), and also for their insurance. The more experience they can get before we go on the roads the better it will be for them.’

Government plans for the graduated driver’s licence programme have faced delay for months, mainly due to problems qualifying instructors. Roads and Infrastructure Minister Arden McLean has said the programme could start as early as next month.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Alden McLaughlin recently said that driver’s education classes would not make it into the curriculum for the start of the upcoming school year, and may actually have to be pushed into the extracurricular schedule because of time constraints.

No final decisions have been made about public school driver’s education.

Public pressure to create more training programmes for young drivers reached fever pitch late last year when three young men were killed in two accidents just days before Christmas. A string of fatal wrecks continued into the early part of this year with an 18-year-old, two 20-year-olds and a 25-year-old among the victims.

Fatal collisions have slowed this summer, but more deaths have occurred on Cayman’s roads in the first seven months of this year than the island saw in all of 2005.

FYI

Anyone wishing to enrol in the driver’s education class should contact Aileen Samuel at 323-0557 or 925-2798. She can also be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

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