RYDA program comes of age

The RYDA road safety education program has reached two iconic milestones.  In Australia, RYDA celebrated it’s 21st birthday at the venue where it all began.  Across the ditch, RYDA is finally old enough to drive, reaching its 16th birthday in New Zealand.

RSE’s flagship RYDA program has positively impacted the lives of around 725,000 Australian and New Zealanders since its inception.

CEO & Managing Director of Road Safety Education Limited, Terry Birss, says the contribution of the RYDA program to society has been undeniable.

“We’re proud of the significant difference the RYDA program has made to the safety of young drivers on our roads over the past 21 years through the empowerment of young drivers and passengers,” Mr Birss said.

“Our original cohort of RYDA participants are now in their mid-late 30s and I have no doubt that our focus on education through behavioural change and a focus on young driver and passengers’ attitudes has played a role in reducing road trauma. I’m delighted with the growth of the RYDA program and the reputation that it continues to build on over its 21 years.”

Figures from the International Transport Forum’s Road Safety Report 2021 for Australia show a reduction of fatalities on Australian roads of nearly 40 per cent when comparing 2020 figures to 2000, despite 60 per cent more registered vehicles on the road.  While figures from the International Transport Forum’s Road Safety Report 2019 for New Zealand show a reduction of fatalities on New Zealand roads of 23.8 per cent when comparing 2019 figures to 2000, despite nearly 70 per cent more registered vehicles on the road.

However, the figures in both countries also indicate some concerning trends.  In Australia, the number of cyclists killed on our roads increasing over the same time and in New Zealand, the number of crashes resulting in injury and hospitalisations increasing, as well as a rise in motorcycle fatalities – highlighting the continued need for education.

“While there is so much to celebrate in this milestone, it’s also evident that there is still a long way to go to create safer roads for all road users.  Programs like RYDA challenge the mindset and behaviours of motorists and give them the tools they need to face the challenges on the road.  This is key to achieving the long-term goals in a sustainable manner that will not only impact today’s road users, but future ones as well,” Mr Birss added.

From humble beginnings as a Rotary project held in one location in Sydney, RYDA now typically sees, 45,000 students take part each year across more than 350 workshop days run throughout Australia and New Zealand, involving more than 650 schools. RYDA workshops are supported throughout Australia by a dedicated team of volunteers primarily RSE’s community partner, Rotary, and by corporate partners BOC, Toyota, Bridgestone and Boral.

We thank every single (past and present) volunteer, partner, teacher, facilitator, staff member, board member, ambassador, patron or friend of the program who has helped RYDA become the program it is today.

From our partners

In Australia and New Zealand

Mina Howard, District Governor 2022-23, Rotary District 9685 (RYDA’s founding district) says, “I’m very proud that Rotarians began this project. A Rotary project begins with an idea by someone who has seen a need and then grows into a successful and impactful program that touches more people than was ever imagined. It is wonderful to see that RYDA has evolved to the stage that 21 years later it is still helping thousands of young people to understand the importance of road safety. Congratulations and may the good work be celebrated for many years to come.”

“As RYDA’s founding partner, we’re delighted to honour this wonderful achievement. The impact that RYDA has made on driver education across Australia and New Zealand has been immense and made a real difference to people’s lives through driver safety, and we are proud to be involved with such an important program” John Evans, Managing Director, BOC South Pacific.

Bridgestone Australia & New Zealand Managing Director, Heath Barclay, congratulated RYDA on the milestone.

“As a proud partner of the RYDA program, we’re thrilled to join Road Safety Education Limited in celebrating this iconic milestone. Since first partnering with RYDA in 2016, we understood the incredible difference this program makes to the lives of young motorists and passengers and our commitment has been unwavering because of the dedication RYDA has to achieving its objectives, and contributing to the goal of preventing road trauma,” Mr Barclay said.

In Australia

Toyota Australia Chief Marketing Officer Vin Naidoo congratulated Road Safety Education Australia and the RYDA program on this significant milestone.

“Toyota has been a proud partner of RSE since 2011; and we are incredibly grateful for their tireless work and contribution to road safety education over the last 21 years,” he said.

Boral’s Executive General Manager – Supply Chain & Logistics James Campbell, said:

“We would like to acknowledge RSE and specifically the contribution of the RYDA program in helping to make Australian roads safer over the past 21 years. As operators of a significant on-road fleet we are fully committed to being responsible road citizens and ensuring our drivers and other motorists safely depart and arrive at their destination. We give our thanks to the entire RSE team.”

In New Zealand

New Zealand Steel’s Chief Executive Robin Davies congratulated the team at RYDA and the many volunteers involved for their dedication and commitment to delivering such a practical and powerful programme over the past 16 years. “Safety on the roads is something we all share, and we feel very proud to be a founding sponsor of a programme that is dedicated to saving lives and improving road safety.”

VTNZ Country Manager Greg O’Connor says supporting the RYDA programme and seeing the team in action with teenagers has been one of the highlights of his year.

“It’s crucial that we positively influence teenagers before they get their licence -or as early as we can into the licencing process – because we know that young drivers need the most support when they move to their NZ Restricted Licence. During the practical testing process, we ensure drivers understand the road code and can competently and safely handle their vehicle. Organisations such as RYDA prepare young drivers for the added responsibilities of more freedom and carrying passengers by teaching them strategies to help with peer pressure and making good decisions.”

“VTNZ is all about driver and vehicle safety and we are pleased to support a programme such as RYDA that does such great work helping keep our drivers and roads as safe as possible,” said Greg O’Connor.

There are young people alive today and free of injury because of RYDA and our partners.

For more information, learn more about the RYDA program here.