Sharlene Markin CEO of Road Craft Gympie.
Sharlene Markin CEO of Road Craft Gympie. Tom Daunt

Roadcraft CEO: Driver education reform needs to happen

SHARLENE Makin knows better than anybody driver education saves lives.

If not for the training she acquired through the Roadcraft Driver Education program she now runs, there is every chance she and her then teenage daughter may have been seriously injured or even killed, when the land cruiser she was driving fishtailed on a wet road several years ago.

Now CEO of Gympie driver education facility Roadcraft Driver Education, Mrs Makin is advocating for driver education reform and says we are not doing enough to stem the road toll.

"It is profoundly obvious to me that education is what's lacking," Mrs Makin said.

"We have got better roads, we have safer cars, we have a graduated licencing system, we have doubled the learner hours, we have had expensive advertising campaigns and scare campaigns but not one of these things has reduced the road toll.

"Education is what's missing."

When the Roadcraft facility opened in Gympie 37 years ago, the founders believed it imperative that learner drivers needed to experience the challenges faced when on the open road in a controlled environment.

Mrs Makin believes now more than ever, a mandated driver education program needs to be rolled out across the nation.

"We can't teach anybody advanced driving in two days but we can teach them how to stay alive," Mrs Makin said.

"What our course actually achieves, and it is why I think it is so outstanding, is the desired learning outcomes of having people become motived to change their attitude toward risk acceptance.

"We set people up to fail in front of their peers on the skid pan."

"If we don't have young drivers in a car experiencing what it feels like to have a simulated crash into cones in a controlled environment, we are not going to achieve what they need to achieve.

"They are going to walk away from the course and drive exactly the same.

"What's important is that we institute something right across the country that is effective driver education."

While Gympie's driver education facility is at the forefront of implementing learner driver curriculum, Mrs Makin has acknowledged her business model would not be easy to replicate.

She is calling on cooperation from both federal and state governments to assist.

"We realise we are selfish keeping it (Roadcraft curriculum) just in one corner of one state but franchising what we do is not like flipping hamburgers.

"The level of investment we put back into internal training for our staff is immense.

"There is the fear that we could randomly put all this across and give them (instructors) a couple of weeks training but there is a grave fear that we would send those course participants away more dangerous.

"So you have to do it properly.

"It is difficult but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it," she said.

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