The Assistant Minister to Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, is using the take-up of the 400,000th keys2drive learner driver lesson, which occurred this month, to reiterate the need for all road users to stay safe throughout Australia Day celebrations.

keys2drive is a Government-funded and Australian Automobile Association (AAA) delivered program that provides a free one hour lesson to learner drivers. Since keys2drive started delivering lessons in 2009, thousands of learners have been given tips and advice on how to be safer independent drivers.

“Lifelong safe driving habits can form very early on, particularly when a driver is learning with their driving supervisor, and that is why programs such as keys2drive, where a lesson is spent not only with their instructor but also with their supervisor are so important,” Mr McCormack said.

“Whether it’s stopping to take a break during long drives, observing set speed limits or driving to conditions particularly in busy periods like the break around Australia Day, we all need to learn how to be safe drivers and we all need to be diligent drivers at all times.”

AAA Chief Executive Michael Bradley said: “keys2drive is an incredibly important program that not only targets our most vulnerable road users, but also seeks to help their supervisors.

“Because they always have an adult beside them, learner drivers are some of the safest on our roads. But the moment they get their P Plates, their risk of being harmed in a crash increases by up to 3000 per cent, which reinforces the importance of the Government’s efforts to educate our young drivers.”

Jane Downey, a parent of one child and guardian of another, sat in on two lessons in Wagga Wagga.

Jane said: “I have never had any formal lessons myself so found the keys2drive lessons very helpful and informative and showed me things that I was doing wrong myself. The kids found the theory part very informative as they were a little naïve and it brought home to them the importance of safety in the first 6 months of being a P plater”.

keys2drive does not replace existing driver training but complements other programs with improved techniques that encourage the development of safer driving habits over the long term.

A 2013 University of NSW study found that keys2drive participants in NSW had a self-reported crash rate of 4.5% compared with a 9.9% crash rate of those that had not completed keys2drive.