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Novice driver education in Australia doesn't teach essential safety behaviour around bike riders well. Cycle Aware can address this.

At the recent International Cycling Safety Conference, Dr Jennifer Bonham explained about the  Cycle Aware driver education program.  Cycle Aware is based on Australia-wide research and is designed to foster safer interactions bike riders.

Driving instructor educating novice driver on safety behaviours around bicycles

Unfortunately, a three year study found, across Australia, driver education was not teaching enough safety behaviours around people riding bikes.

On-line interactive training was developed as a result of Australian crashes research, current literature, overseas examples of education and cyclist behaviour. 

Unsurprisingly, co-driving had been identified as the most effective teaching method. However, this relies on driving instructors/parents having positive attitudes and practices towards rider safety.

Secondly, it's using scenarios where the learner is given a situation and asked for their next steps.  A module was developed with a range of scenarios and piloted in two stages in the Northern Territory and South Australia. 

Testing and Research

The first stage tested the module's clarity and the results were used to improve the instructions. The second round tested training's effectiveness and the relationship between the attitudes towards cyclists and the learners’ knowledge or experience of riding bikes.

Overall, participant scores were high, indicating the education was well-understood.  No link was found between the knowledge of or attitude to cyclists, and the performance of the participant.

In February 2017 the Amy Gillett Foundation made a recommendation to the NSW Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety that this type of driver education be adopted.  

“In 2019 we saw the worst fatality rates in NSW since 2004.  Improved driver education based on sound research offers opportunities to save lives,” said General Manager of Public Affairs, Bastien Wallace.

“We call on the NSW Government to adopt this education, and we encourage riders to let their local MPs know, that this is important to you,’ said Bastien.

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