LADS secretary Rob Wells at the driver education track in Lismore aimed at curbing fatal and life-altering crashes.
LADS secretary Rob Wells at the driver education track in Lismore aimed at curbing fatal and life-altering crashes. Marc Stapelberg

New driving facility helps combat grief of losing LADS

UPDATE 12.57pm: SENIOR police have welcomed the opening of Stage 1 of the new Regional Driver Education Facility.

Richmond Police District Acting Superintendent Nicole Bruce said the facility, which includes a 500m track set on 20.23 hectare block, would be of enormous benefit to the community.

"It a wonderful facility initiated here," she said.

"Unfortunately it has come out of heartache.

"But the good work which has come out of the program, including changes in road safety policy, this facility will help reduce the death poll."

Lismore City Council general manager Shelley Oldham said the facility is "fabulous for Lismore."

She said council are doing everything in their power to get the facility open.

Mayor Isaac Smith applauded the incredible work of the SC LADS committee.

"It's something that will raise awareness of better driver education and help our youth become better drivers," he said.

SC LADS secretary Rob Wells whose son dies in the tragic crash more than 12 years ago, said he hoped the facility will be expanded to include a 4WD and all-terrain tracks.

He said he hoped no-one would ever have to go through the terrible heartache suffered by his and the families of their other three young men who died.

Mr Wells, said working on the learner driver facility was "one way of knocking out the grief".

"This facility has been built by the community for the community," he said.

Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation chairman, Phil Neat said the organisation was proud to contribute $110,000 towards the facility.

Opening Stage 1 today, Mr Hogan said: "This project has been talked about since our community's tragic loss of four young lives in a car crash at Broken Head Road in 2006".

"Any life lost on our roads is far too many. This facility will help reduce the tragic loss of life by fostering better hazard-perception skills and providing a safe environment for young drivers to learn the skills of low-risk driving.

"The facility is good news for learner drivers and people who want to update their driving skills, as well as older drivers and people with disabilities.

"Around 5000 people will use the facility each year and take their skills home where they will contribute to safer roads in their communities.

"I would like to acknowledge the hard work of Southern Cross LADS for not only raising awareness about the need for better driver education but for also fundraising since early 2007, together with many service clubs, to make it a reality," Mr Hogan said.



Original story: THE long road to realising his dream of saving young drivers' lives has been fulfilled today for Rob Wells when he attended the official opening of a driver training facility.

Nearly 13 years since the horrific crash which killed his son, Mr Wells was a driving force behind the new Southern Cross LADS driver training track aimed at curbing fatal and life-altering crashes, on the outskirts of Lismore.

The idea to build the facility was born out of a tragedy in October 2006, when four local teenagers - Bryce Wells, Corey New, Mitch Eveleigh and Paul Morris - died as a result of a car crash on Broken Head Rd, Byron Bay.


Southern Cross LADS Driver Education Facility has opened.
Southern Cross LADS Driver Education Facility has opened. Alison Patterson

Following the crash, a committee consisting of parents, family and friends was formed in December 2006 to increase driver awareness of road risks and develop safer driving behaviour.

Shortly after, the committee started fundraising to build the driver training track.

Mr Wells said around 5000 people are expected to use the facility which will help reduce the tragic loss of lives on our roads.