A former Charles Darwin University lecturer is using his passion and experience to teach road safety skills to the Katherine community using pedal cars.
Chris Dixon has been the secretary of the Katherine Rotary Club for the last 12 years and his driving school DRV4LYF, which began in 2007 as a hobby, is now his full-time focus.
"Over the past few years, my project at Rotary has been to try and re-establish the Road Safety Centre in Rotary Park," Mr Dixon said.
"This was a thriving project before the 1998 flood, with working traffic lights and schools and parents, would bring their children and use the facility to teach about road safety."
On Australia Day 1998, the Road Safety Centre was flooded along with most of the town when the banks of the Katherine River were burst by floodwaters, devastating the town in a once a in generation natural disaster.
The centre has been closed ever since, its doors shut for more than two decades; however, a reopening is expected next month thanks to a total of $13,000 in health grant funding from the NT Government.
"The grants have enabled us to purchase the best pedal cars in Australia from Funwheels, who gave us a discounted price," Mr Dixon said.
The pedal cars can be hired for use in the safely enclosed Rotary Park recreational facility, which is still operating, but they are also being used to teach road safety in a novel way.
Earlier this year, DRV4LYF driving school borrowed two pedal cars from the Rotary Club and ran an alcohol awareness training program in association with St John's Ambulance and local police in the Beswick community.
"Adults and children were able to drive the pedal cars around a determined track set out in their basketball court - first without beer goggles and then with beer goggles," Mr Dixon said.
"The beer goggles are a training aid which skews your vision to what it is when your blood alcohol level is high.
"With beer goggles on, the participants crashed into poles, and into us standing around, and they thought it was funny, but then in a later discussion, community members talked about the effect the drink driving had on their families.
"Because if you crash into a pole when you're driving a car, you're dead.
"The police described the consequences of drink driving, and we had community members tell stories of life without loved ones.
"As far as I'm aware, nobody has done an initiative like this before, so as it seemed to be a success, we might explore other options for doing this again.
"And it all happened because we got the pedal cars - otherwise, it would have been the traditional old-fashioned way of delivering alcohol awareness which isn't working."
As a teacher, Mr Dixon said he is always looking at different ways of delivering training that are fun.
"I strongly believe that if it's boring, then no one will listen to you," he said.
Mr Dixon and fellow Rotarian Andrew Highet are now in the process of assembling the new pedal cars to add to the club's collection.
"We now have 7 small cars and 9 bigger cars," Mr Dixon said.
"The Rotary Park Road Safety Centre will open in mid-June."
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