Scottish Borders pioneers pre-licence driver training as part of National Curriculum

Young people between the ages of 14 and 17 are set to receive driver training as part of the national curriculum for the first time, thanks to a pioneering new initiative in the Scottish Borders.

The pioneering initiative will assess pupils’ awareness of and attitudes towards driving through classroom tuition prior to undertaking activity behind the wheel. Tutors will educate students on the fundamentals of driving, from the rules of the road and hazard perception to manoeuvring a vehicle. More than 700 local secondary school pupils will take part in 14 day-long sessions, from April to October 2017, at the former RAF airfield, Charterhall, in Berwickshire.

The programme is run by a consortium involving Police Scotland, IAM RoadSmart, Scottish Fire & Rescue, the Scottish Ambulance Service, and Scottish Borders Council.

“Getting young driver education into schools as part of the curriculum has been a long-term goal for everyone involved in the partnership because it offers long-term benefits for both the driver and the Borders community,” Chief Inspector Andy McLean of Police Scotland said. “To see our efforts come to fruition is an amazing step forward in road safety for the Borders region. The new initiative gives young drivers the experience they need to survive the high-risk early months of solo driving, so anything we can do to provide them with these skills to make roads safer has to be welcomed.”

The scheme was created after it was found that under-17s with controlled driving experience were five times safer than their peers. It follows on from a successful and on-going programme launched in 2014, which has seen hundreds of drivers from the Borders aged 17 to 25 provided with advanced driver training. The Scottish Borders Council committed £48,000 to put the drivers through the IAM's Skill for Life programme after it was found that young people accounted for 20-25% of the 400 people injured on Borders roads from 2008-2012.

“Both programmes offer an opportunity to cut road deaths and make younger drivers safer and more confident on the roads. Scottish Government figures show that £35.7m is the average annual cost of road accidents in the region, so the scheme will also look to cut Government costs,” Jeanette McDiarmid, Deputy Chief Executive of the Scottish Borders Council, said.