Rory rallies young drivers in his bid to teach road safety
A FORMER rally driver is building a ?200,000 training centre to help cut the level of road deaths among young drivers.
Rory Galligan (33) has installed T-junctions, roundabouts and crossroads on a seven-acre site in Co Meath. He said it would help to educate young people under 17, who would otherwise be taking to the roads when they got their provisional licences without any driving skills.
"I definitely feel that it will benefit them and it will educate them. It mightn't stop every road death but it's possible to show them the consequences of getting it wrong by having crashed cars there as well."
The custom-designed training facility, which is being built near Oldcastle, will allow young people to drive a car alongside an instructor or a parent.
"This would be on private property, in a controlled environment, and there's almost nothing we can't recreate to help a young driver learn," Mr Galligan said.
Fine Gael road safety spokesman Shane McEntee, who is supporting Mr Galligan's plans, said a network of similar driver-training centres should be set up across the country.
"These would be dedicated centres of excellence where people learning to drive would take driving lessons on an approved off-road site."
Mr Galligan, who was a championship-winning rally driver with Mitsubishi and Peugeot during his 13-year career, said he sympathised with young people who had no place to drive legally until they became 17. "In my own home town, there's a lot of kids who don't have any access to land, and you can't drive on the country roads. It's an awful lot of pent-up frustration and they are very much lacking in confidence from a driving point of view."
Any money young people spent on lessons at the driving centre would come back to them, he said, because insurance companies would give them discounts on their premiums.
Although the roads on the site have yet to be tarmacadamed, the centre is expected to be completed later this year.