Tragic crash the driving force behind new facility
IT HAS been a long road to realising his dream of saving young drivers' lives.
But nearly 13 years since the horrific crash which killed his son, Rob Wells' vision for a driver training facility is finally a reality.
Yesterday the LADS (Learn About Driving Skills) committee gathered to inspect the new Southern Cross LADS driver training track on the outskirts of Lismore, with the first stage finally completed.
The idea to build the facility was borne 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.
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.
Committee secretary Mr Wells said the group was waiting on one final tick of approval before it could open the facility for driver training, and said it could be only a matter of weeks before the first driver took to the track.
"It has taken quite a while to get us to this stage," he said.
"It required a lot of resilience and patience from the committee, especially with so many setbacks. We would get started and then something would happen and we would have to stop, then try to find the momentum to start again. It took a lot."
The completed first stage of the 20ha driving facility includes a track about 500m long with a stretch of high-grade bitumen for precision driving and manoeuvring, and corners of different degrees, as well as roundabouts and crossroads.
Mr Wells said there were plans for two more stages, including construction of a clubhouse with training rooms and offices, as well as areas in which young drivers could learn vital skills, such as how to change a tyre.
There would also be more training tracks, and possibly quad bike and 4WD vehicle tracks.
Page MP Kevin Hogan said the creation of the facility was a "silver lining in a dark cloud".
"This accident affected not just parents and friends of the young lives, but it really hit the entire community hard. It is great to see that this project is in its final stages and will be ready to train our young drivers in a couple of months," Mr Hogan said.
"Any life lost on our roads is far too many. This project will help train our young people to make them safer drivers."
Mr Wells said the first stage of the facility cost about $800,000, of which the Federal Government contributed $250,000 while the remainder was donated by the community.