Talk Times with Principal Grimes A.B. Paterson College – Driving Youth Towards a Safer Future


“In my 28 years in education, I have sat and held the hands of too many inconsolable mothers, embraced too many distraught fathers and attempted to explain to too many siblings why their big brother or sister is no longer with us.”  – Brian Grimes, Principal, A.B. Paterson College.



Having witnessed too many young lives lost during my 28 years in education, I decided it was time to do something to stop these senseless road tragedies.


Every year we hear the most dreadful stories of young lives lost on our roads. These tragedies are often the result of inexperience behind the wheel, but also through an attitude towards driving that renders the driver bullet-proof, far too often involving distractions from mobile devices, alcohol and a lack of appreciation of the danger that exists when driving a vehicle. 


Young people can have an inflated opinion of their driving abilities, and an equally deflated appreciation of the risks. This is a dangerous combination that can, and sadly often does, lead to significant, life-changing events or fatalities on our roads. 



In an effort to change the perceptions of young people towards driving, A.B. Paterson College – with generous financial support from three sponsors, The Advanced Group, Eaton Services Group and Morse Building Consultancy – have purchased three of the most advanced Driver Training Simulators, featuring a real driver’s seat, seat belt, handbrake and three LED high tech screens to provide students with an unparalleled virtual driving experience.


The simulators present a myriad of varying driving conditions and mechanical failures to provide young people and novice drivers with the opportunity to experience these situations in a safe and non-threatening environment, and to make them more aware as to how their driving behaviour can impact upon their safety and that of others.


At A.B. Paterson College, our Driver Training Program is strategic in its intent to educate a targeted group of students who have not yet reached the provisional stage of their licence.  We have developed a multi-pronged approach to educating our students about Driver Safety; those students who hold a Learner’s Permit are trained to become Driver Safety Ambassadors who, in turn, guide younger students (Years 9 and 10) in their simulated driving attempts.  Our Driver Safety Ambassadors adopt a role as mentor to their younger colleagues and implement coaching and reflective practices to inform, educate and offer suggestions for safer driving practices. 


This year, with the support of Program Ambassador and Managing Director of Driver Safety Australia, Russell White, we have trained 19 Driver Safety Ambassadors.  In addition, our Driver Safety Ambassadors are also studying Health as part of their academic program here at the College – meaning much of their Driver Safety Ambassador Training will form the foundation of their assessment in units of work. As part of their training, they will undertake a Fleet Safety FS101 Program which covers a wide range of driving and road safety issues. This training is designed to give our students a firm understanding of how to approach road safety by improving their own approach to driving, and their awareness of potential risks and hazards. 



Once fully trained, our Driver Safety Ambassadors give up one lunchtime each fortnight in order to be available for Years 9 and 10 students to book time on the Driving Simulators.  As part of the A.B. Paterson College Driver Training Program, all students are required to complete a mandatory 10 – 30 hours of Community Service in Years 10 – 12, and as part of this new Driver Training Program, they are required to complete a minimum number of Driver Training sessions in Years 10 – 12, with access to this program from Year 9.  


Discussion with Griffith University Researcher, Dr Chris Irwin led to us making specific choices in our targeting of Year 11 students as the Driver Safety Ambassadors, and to use them in a coaching/mentoring role for our Years 9 and 10 students for 2019.  Subsequent to this, our Year 10 students will apply to become Driver Safety Ambassadors for 2020, ensuring the perpetuation of the program into the future. 


Our colleagues at Griffith University have provided us with co-researching opportunities whereby they will measure the base-line driving ability of our Year 10 cohort via their first test on the Driving Simulator. Once those students have been mentored by our Year 11 Driver Safety Ambassadors, as well as attended several practice sessions and RACQ visits, Griffith University researchers will look again at their Driving Simulator test to see what improvements the individual students have made.  Our teachers will work with researchers to investigate and measure the impact of simulator training on driver proficiency and attitudes toward driving in a cooperative, longitudinal study between the College and the University.  Through this process, data will be gathered to further inform our Driver Training Program in order to refine its delivery to our students. 



Our Driver Simulators, along with our Driver Training Program, allow us to work together to drive our youth towards a safer future. 


As the Principal of A.B. Paterson College, and as a parent, I believe the most important thing in life is the happiness, safety and education of children. At A.B. Paterson College, we believe in our motto of Excellence, Care and Commitment, and strive to enable our young people to grow and make a positive difference to society.


Our College has grown from a rich history bathed in the Australian heritage, into one of the leading educational and most forward thinking institutions in our country. From our leading pedagogy and purposeful consideration of educational research, to our caring pastoral approach, based upon principles of mindfulness and positive psychology, our College enables all students to achieve their very best.


Steeped in traditional values, set apart by a future-focussed approach, our College is so much more than an academic school. If you would like to know more about our A.B experience I invite you to be our guest at our College Open Day Tuesday, 13 August, join us for a College tour, watch my video blog, Talk Times with Principal Grimes and connect to our College Facebook page.


Discover how A.B. Paterson College brings out the best in all of our students, as we Challenge the Individual to Achieve and to Act with Purpose and Character!



Brian Grimes


A.B. Paterson College