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Call to put drink drivers on right track

Last updated 05:00 03/06/2010

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Bay Chronicle

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The Kennedy family has set its sights on a law change to stop the drink driving carnage.

"But it will take time," says Hamish Kennedy, whose sister Katherine Fiona "Rin" Kennedy, 46, mother of five-year-old Matthew, was killed in a head-on collision at Oromahoe on March 17.

His wife Kim was already fighting carnage on the roads before the accident happened.

In February – just a few weeks before her sister-in-law and "best friend" was killed in a car crash – Kim had started working with the Braveheart Youth Trust, a body that focuses on youth at risk and supports a programme called The Right Track.

The Right Track teaches young people referred by the courts about the consequences of dangerous driving.

Launched in 2007, it was developed in consultation with police and endorsed by Auckland court judges.

The 42-hour programme uses real-life scenarios and presentations from emergency services, funeral directors, victims, towing firms and a hospital trauma unit.

Kim attended four sessions of The Right Track programme so that she could see the effect it had on those attending.

She says it has a profound effect and it should be made more widely available.

"One young man said he used to drink and drive every weekend but he wouldn't be doing that any more.

"This programme should be available to every driver.

"At the moment there is funding only for people referred by the courts but hopefully the government will realise the benefits and fund it."

The Kennedy family wants stronger laws and increased penalties for recidivist drunk drivers and more effective driver education.

"All first-time offenders should be required to do a course such as The Right Track and, if they reoffend, the system should be a lot tougher on them," says Hamish.

Rin was travelling from her home in Kerikeri to Whangarei that Wednesday morning to attend a horticulture course.

She was airlifted to Whangarei Hospital where she died several hours later.

It was the second such loss for the Kennedy family.

Rin's mother Eleanor died in a motor vehicle accident in 1988.

Rin's son Matthew is being cared for by the family of Rin's brother, Chris Kennedy.

For more information on the Braveheart Youth Trust visit www.braveheart.org.nz/projects.html.

NO PLEA TO MULTIPLE CHARGES

Auckland man Warren John Jenkins, 49, appeared in the Auckland District Court last week, facing several charges in connection with the March 17 crash at Oromahoe, and other unrelated charges including theft and assault.

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He entered no plea to charges of drink driving causing death, driving while disqualified for a third or subsequent time, driving with excess breath alcohol and breaching bail in relation to the crash.

Jenkins will be back in court on June 15. He is required to stay at an alcohol rehabilitation clinic until his June court appearance.

 

- Northland

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