Future drivers shown how ‘enjoyable driving can keep them safe’
Young people in Scotland aged 11-17 years have been given the chance to gain driving experience as part of an event hosted by IAM RoadSmart.
The Borders under-17 driving day, sponsored by former British Touring Car Champion John Cleland, gave young people the opportunity to drive a car, off the main road, alongside an instructor.
The event, supported by Police Scotland, Scottish Fire Services, Scottish Ambulance Service and Scottish Borders Council, was staged in Berwickshire on 21-22 May with 68 youngsters receiving five hours of one-to-one tuition.
Driver training for under 17s is a somewhat contentious concept, with some road safety professionals questioning its merit.
However, Pat Doughty, IAM RoadSmart operations director, said: “Anyone who ever doubts the value of pre-licence driver education needs to see it in action. You cannot fail to be moved by the level of skill young people develop quickly when you do the right training.”
On the day, attendees developed their skills, starting off with the basics of car control before working up to braking and understanding safety systems. There was also a test of their handling ability, through a slow speed slalom.
Modern and future technology was also a theme, with a demonstration of autonomous braking.
One attendee, 16 year old Daniel Paterson, said: “I really enjoyed my driving experience. I feel I learnt a lot about vehicle control and handling and it was great to try out different make/models of cars especially the Jaguar XE. I mean what 16 year old ever gets the opportunity to say that!
“It was a great day and a relaxing atmosphere. When telling all my mates today they are all really interested in trying this for themselves.”
Pat Doughty added: “As a charity whose mission is to make better drivers and riders, we are naturally particularly conscious of younger drivers. It's no secret that this group is overrepresented in the accident stats.
“We set up this event because we wanted to show future drivers how enjoyable driving can keep them safe on the roads. After just five hours many of the participants were already showing brilliant driving ability and awareness. And most importantly they had fun too."
John Cleland said: “This event was the first of its kind in Scotland and our aim is to make this the start of many that might help make our youngsters better drivers and cut down on road accident fatalities.
“Our long-term aim would be to get this activity added to the education curriculum and train the youngsters in the enjoyment they can get from driving and cut down the dangers by making them more aware and alert behind the wheel.”
There are more dates scheduled for later this year.