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The back wall at Rev’s Motorcycle Centre is covered in signed L plates, from former students who have passed their restricted tests. Pictured: Mark Revill-Johnson and Joanne Burns. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

All geared up for greater accessibility to licences

Revs Motorcycle Centre is offering free car driving lessons and tests to people in Paeroa and Waihi who face barriers in getting their licence. 

The centre has partnered with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to offer the programme, through a scheme aiming to improve access to education and employment, and increase road safety. 

Revs operations director Joanne Burns said being able to teach more people about road safety was a huge motivator for her and driving instructor partner Mark Revill-Johnson, in applying to be part of the scheme. 

“[Mark’s] ex-police – 27 years of policing – and the point behind doing this is he does not ever want his former emergency services colleagues to have to clean up another body or go and deliver [bad] news,” she said. 

“If he can get some road skills for life for people – that’s our biggest target.” 

Joanne said the centre was already helping some MSD clients through the licensing process. 

“We are already running learner theory workshops with some good results,” she said. 

“There are so many numbers to remember it can be daunting for a new driver, who doesn’t have any experience to relate the numbers to … so we try to give students tools and tricks to learn that information and retain it.” 

In the 2022 budget, the government allocated $86.5 million to fund programmes like Revs’, potentially allowing up to 64,000 people nationally to gain their driver’s licence. The funding will pay for the lessons and tests, as well as other related costs. 

“The scheme funds cover the cost of the test, they cover the lessons, childcare if they’ve got to get childcare to attend the lessons, if they need ID we’ve got funding to get the right ID to support their applications” Joanne said

Revs was already involved with a number of other initiatives to help keep the driving community safe, Joanne said, and the MSD partnership was just another way to help. 

“We’re running courses for the colleges such as learner licences and defensive driving skills,” she said.  

“[And] we offer Rev’s as a drop-in centre for motorcyclists.

“We know that most crashes happen on that ride home. That’s why we say to people, just come in and take a break, get some water, use the toilet. We just want people to stop, take a breath and go again. From Mark’s police experience we know that fatigue after a long day riding can cause a momentary lapse of concentration that’s dangerous. So, if that saves one crash then it’s worth it.” 

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air