A Traffic Offender Intervention Program (TOIP) is a diversional program people attend if they are facing court for a traffic offence, or if they are trying to get their licence back after having it suspended. Participants often come in expecting the worst, but things have come a long way since the “scare them straight” mentality that used to characterise programs like TOIP.
In any educational program it is important to have a positive attitude towards participants; after all, people make mistakes, it’s what we do with them that counts. This type of approach lowers stress and creates conditions that are conducive to learning – ultimately what we want is for people to learn to be safer drivers – so it is with this mentality that we engage with participants in TOIP.
Whether completing TOIP through a face-to-face program, a virtual classroom program or a self-paced online program, the day follows a similar trajectory. The first half of the program involves a detailed analysis of the “Five Fatal Factors” – the top five major causes of death and injury on Australian roads: speeding, intoxication, distraction, fatigue and not wearing a seatbelt/helmet.
These modules provide the knowledge base needed to accurately model risk when driving a vehicle, and the physics, biology and psychology behind driving risk factors, to arrive at a set of low risk driving principles that are firmly grounded in evidence. In other words, rather than simply demand a set of low risk driving behaviours based on opinion, we fully explain the rationale behind making each of them a habit, using science. We also discuss some particularly at-risk groups of road users (motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians) and consider some basic vehicle maintenance strategies in this section.
Part B involves an examination of the human cost of road trauma – it is the emotional or motivational element of the process. With each of our presenters having five years experience or more in a frontline service to draw upon (if not personal experience with the road toll), the real world consequences of high-risk driving are explored in a matter-of-fact way, the objective being to cultivate the motivation necessary to act on the knowledge obtained in Part A.
The goal is not to shock or scare people into behaving themselves, but to provide enough information that participants are able to empathise with the genuinely disastrous and wide-reaching effects that risky driving has on families just like theirs, day in and day out.
Between the cognitive and the emotional components then, the evidence is laid out and the case is made as to how and why road users should engage in low risk driving behaviour, both for their own good and for the good of others, over the course of a day.
Parts A and B built up to the final component of the program, in which participants conduct their own behavioural analysis of the thoughts, feelings and actions that led up to the offence with which they were charged. In doing so, a simple plan of action is developed to prevent the same situation from reoccurring in future, and ultimately to lower the participant’s risk of reoffending. We finish the day by considering this plan in relation to preparing for court, a particularly relevant section for people who are representing themselves.
Whatever initial reservations people may have when they come into the course, they tend to be pleasantly surprised by the experience overall. I’ve lost count of the number of times participants have said things afterwards like “you should have do this course before you get your licence” or “this course should be taught in schools”, but it’s enough to let us know that we’re on the right track.
Once a person has been charged with a traffic offence and is facing court, there are only a few things they can then do to help themselves going forward.
Attending a Traffic Offender Intervention Program is one of them.
CLICK HERE to register for a Traffic Offender Intervention Program today.
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