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Driver training to run on revamped Christchurch red zone roads

Source: Stuff - by Michael Hayward Dec 17, 2019

Neglected roads in Christchurch's river red zone are being brought up to scratch so people can safely learn how to drive. 

The initiative has been pulled together by Te Rūnanga o Ngā Maata Waka, a community organisation that operates out of the National Marae. It has offered affordable driving lessons for some time. 

Contractor Fulton Hogan is repairing several kilometres of damaged road for free.

The course will have road signs and markings, such as stop signs and pedestrian crossings.

Te Rūnanga o Ngā Maata Waka has a five-year lease for an area of the red zone in Dallington. 

Chief executive Norm Dewes hoped the programme would reduce unemployment and help families put food on the table, reduce criminal offending from unlicensed drivers, and help some people have dignity and integrity.

He hoped that the instructors would one day be allowed to issue licenses, because there was a backlog at testing places and sometimes the wait meant people would miss out on a job. 

The programme could in future expand into teaching digger and machinery driving skills. The roads could also be used for school cycling and road safety education programmes. 

The initiative has support from groups including the Crown, police, local government agencies and the Salvation Army. 

At a launch event on Tuesday, Canterbury district police commander Superintendent John Price said 47 people had died on Canterbury roads this year.

"If this can make a difference and save one life, and make a difference to families, our job is done".

Anyone wanting to be part of the free programme can sign up at the National Marae, where they would be put in touch with the programme's instructors. 

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