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by Tim Beissmann

Every Year 10 student will be enrolled in a free defensive driving course as part of a $146 million proposal by Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews to invest in young driver training and education.

Andrews unveiled his ‘Road Safety Starts Early’ program today at the Metec Driver Training facility in Bayswater North, emphasising the importance of arming young Victorians with the skills and support they need to become safe drivers.

The Victorian Labor Party leader says a $24.4m investment will give every Year 10 student a spot in a half-day defensive driving course by 2018. Completing the course would become a mandatory requirement of a probationary licence under a Labor Government.

“Our plan will make sure that young people know about the risks of driving, not just the rules of driving,” Andrews said.

The centrepiece of the program will be the creation of what Andrews claims will be the world’s first dedicated road safety education complex.

The $80m Crash and Trauma Education Centre will feature simulators, exhibitions and presentations from victims and emergency workers, all designed to inform young drivers of the aftermath of unsafe driving, poor decision making and road trauma.

“If we put our kids face to face with the consequences of bad decisions behind the wheel, we can make them think twice and potentially save their life,” he said.

A Labor Government will fund a program to help disadvantaged young drivers obtain their licence if they don’t have access to a car. The L2P program, managed by VicRoads, pairs disadvantaged young drivers with a trained supervisor. The current government has cut the program, though Labor says a $16m investment will secure it into the future.

Labor will also reward responsible young drivers with a free three-year licence if they complete four years on P-plates with a clean driving record, at a cost of $7m, and will also commit an extra $15m to provide Victoria Police with additional Drug and Booze Bus testing equipment.