THE speeding car lurches out of his inebriated grasp and he braces instinctively for the horrific crash that could end his life — but Gold Coaster Marty Brooks is one of the lucky ones.

Unlike the 331 drivers who died on Queensland roads last year, his nightmare is over the minute he ends the driving simulation test.

The 19-year-old from Nerang is one of a rapidly growing number of young drivers voluntarily signing up for the Gold Coast Traffic Offenders Program (GCTOP), a five-week course that aims to shock drivers and prevent them from becoming road toll statistics.

Now the State Government is considering a plan to mandate the training course for all learner drivers to slow the heartbreaking rise in young driver deaths.

In 2009 a shocking 72 young people aged between 17 and 25 were killed and already a total of 102 Queenslanders have died on state roads this year.

GCTOP co-ordinator Lara Hickling said strong measures were needed to curb the death toll, and the Gold Coast pilot program was the state’s answer.

A total of 2519 people have completed the program since the not-for-profit organisation started in 2006 to re-educate people facing drink-driving, hooning and traffic charges in court.

Their records show that only 13 participants have re-offended.

“We know we can save lives if young people take this course,” said Ms Hickling.

She said meetings with Queensland Transport and the Attorney-General Cameron Dick had garnered strong support for a future state-wide roll-out.

“Something has to be done and this program is proven to work, so our talks have been very positive,” she said.

In recent months the pilot program has extended to accept all drivers for a fee of $95, which the organisation uses to hire the Tugun Village Community Centre premises.

All remaining funds are donated to local charities.

Participants attend one night a week for five weeks and learn strategies to avoid offending.

The multimedia course also features an interactive session where participants don ‘beer goggles’, which simulate blood alcohol levels, and then try to drive on a Daytona car racing machine to see first hand the effect of intoxication on co-ordination and reaction time.

For Marty Brooks, his experience was eye-opening.

“I thought I was invincible — everyone my age does but this shows you the truth,” he said.

By Leah Fineran – Gold Coast News

Related Articleshttp://www.goldcoast.com.au/article/2010/06/14/227981_gold-coast-news.html

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