Queanbeyan drivers participate in pilot Road Safety Program

Published on 14 November 2022

Two participants from the Empower Mobility program stand in front of a car

Empowr Mobility’s pilot NSW Road Safety Program has been a big hit in Queanbeyan so far.

The program, which was funded by the NSW Government and run in partnership with Essential Energy, provides young people with access to safer vehicles which have a 5 star ANCAP rating and a revolutionary app that encourages safer driving habits.

Seven pilot participants are spread out across the state, with two in Queanbeyan.

Brooke, 21, and Nakita, 20, joined the program in June and have already noticed considerable changes to their driving behaviours and attitude to being behind the wheel.

As part of the program, participants’ driving habits are tracked using the CAR[A] app, which has been purposefully designed by the Empowr Mobility team.

Empowr Mobility’s Customer Success & Engagement Officer, Phebe Rendulic, says the app gives participants valuable feedback that they are able to reflect on and gauge how they’re going.

‘There are five key aspects that it looks at, which is acceleration, braking, cornering, speeding and phone distraction,’ Phebe says.

‘The telematics in the app are able to pick up where these sort of incidences occur. Then I generate reports as a summary so they can see how they go week by week.’

Brooke — a full-time nursing and paramedicine student — says the app has helped her realise how easy it is to get caught up in the flow of traffic and casually speed.

She believes that the app has the potential to ‘humble’ a lot of ‘cocky’ young drivers, like it did for her when she first joined the program.

‘It has genuinely helped me improve,’ Brooke said.

The CAR[A] app also asks drivers to record how they were feeling during each trip.

So far, the Empowr Mobility team has collected some insightful data on how a person’s mood can affect their driving.

‘A lot of the times when someone gets a “red trip” — which is a bad one — they’ll usually be hungry,’ Phebe laughed.

‘Even surprisingly, [feeling] excited [can affect a person’s driving negatively] because it’s an overt exertion of a feeling. These are things that can distract you from just focusing on your driving.’

The program aims to ease the anxiety of young drivers by providing them with new 5-star ANCAP rated cars which are leased to them for a fixed term. Empowr Mobility also cover all insurance and road-side assistance costs.

As younger drivers are often most likely to purchase older and therefore less safe vehicles, they become more susceptible to crashes and the financial pressures of constant repairs and services.

Prior to joining the program, Nakita was driving a 2014 model Ford Focus which she said was ‘all nice and new-ish’ when she first got it.

‘But then it got damaged by hail, then it got written-off, then we bought it back and then I hit a kangaroo and then I hit a wombat,’ Nakita said.

By the time she could finally get it registered, it was going to cost her $1,500 to get it repaired.

A week later, she found out she had been accepted into the Empowr Mobility pilot program and given the keys to a new Ford Ranger LCV.

‘I work out in the country a lot, so I drive at night in the dark. I work long hours. So there’s more risk — I’m more likely to hit an animal. I’m a carpenter so the ute has been really good, just putting all my tools in the back.’

Both Brooke and Nakita said all their friends are jealous of their new cars and would love the chance to be a part of the program.

‘All my friends were in the same boat, they have a crappy car that has next to no safety features. And I know my friends definitely think they’re also invincible when it comes to their driving,’ Brooke said.

‘If they had had that opportunity as well, they would jump at the chance.’

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