20 March 2018
The final day of the Central Otago's Young Driver (on Saturday 17 March) finished on a great note with the awarding of two titles – Most Improved Driver and Central's Best Young Driver 2018.
Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan announced the winner at the prizegiving at Highlands Motorsport Park. Ashleigh Anderson, employed by House of Travel in Alexandra, secured the title of Most Improved Driver. Martin Alford, a roading engineer at CODC in Alexandra, won the overall award for Central Otago's Best Young Driver 2018.
Andy Bartlett, convener of the competition, said he was really happy with how much the young drivers learned during the event.
Twenty-six participants took part in the programme that culminated with the top four – scored over the two-day programme – undergoing additional skill tests in a "Drive Off" to decide the titles.
Jeff Fleury of the New Zealand Transport Agency said the programme gave young drivers the chance to learn from skilled instructors in a safe setting.
"Too many people are dying and being seriously injured on our roads. This programme is helping our young people gain confidence when driving, and to be more aware of their surroundings. The skills not thrills message really hits home over the two days' training. Seeing the drivers from where they were just a few days ago is amazing."
Sidonee Gibson said she was stoked to have been involved in the programme.
"I've learnt so much over the past few days, and feel more confident behind the wheel. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn some skills while having fun on the way. We fully appreciate the time and effort that goes into organising this type of thing, and the huge support of all the instructors and helpers."
The drivers had the opportunity to practise using ABS brakes and Electronic Stability Control in gravel.
Graham McNabb, a member of the organising committee, said it was fantastic to have so much support and so many volunteers from the community involved.
"We have had the continued generous sponsorship from Highlands Motorsport Park - who donated the use of their facilities and some of their highly skilled staff. We have also had the use of vehicles from Hawkdun Vehicles & Finance in Cromwell for the events – and more than 30 volunteers, many from the Central Otago Motorsport Club, involved in running the events. We could not have run the competition without their assistance and they should take credit for their part in its success."