- Pre-licence training for 14- to 17-year-olds
- Volvo Car UK to provide 20 cars to support scheme
- Aim is to reduce young drivers’ crash casualties
GLASGOW, Scotland – Teens as young as 14 have just begun driving instruction as part of a Scottish national curriculum.
In South Africa, unfortunately, schoolchildren of that age are being killed in taxi crashes. The Corner asks: “Isn’t it about time the SA government followed such an initiative?”
John Cleland, Volvo dealer principal of Cleland of the Borders (that’s the area around the Scots/English border) has invested in the scheme which will see more than 700 senior-school pupils take the course during coming months.
VENUE A FORMER AIR FORCE BASE
Its introduction comes after it was found that under-17’s with controlled driving experience were five times safer than their peers when eventually licensed to drive.
The programme, The Corner was told, will be run by a consortium of Police Scotland, IAM RoadSmart, Scottish Fire and Rescue, Scottish Ambulance Service and Scottish Borders Council.
It will incorporate 14 sessions (they started on April 26 2017) and will run until October 19 at a former Royal Air Force base using 20 Volvo cars at each event.
Cleland, not only a car dealer but also a British Touring Car champion, said: “A road accident report conducted in the Scottish Borders in 2016 showed 25% of analysed crashes involved drivers younger than 25.
TRAINEES FIVE TIMES SAFER
“In our region 47% of the population lives in a rural community where a high proportion of roads are classed as derestricted, presenting many challenges and hazards for any driver, particularly those new to driving.
“We set up this initiative to educate young people early because it’s been found that those younger than 17 with controlled driving experience were five times safer than their peers.”
Pupils’ awareness and driving attitude are assessed through classroom tuition before taking the wheel. Tutors educate driving fundamentals – something apparently lacking in South Africa – from the rules of the road and hazard perception through to manoeuvring a vehicle.
Professional advanced driving instructors teach the pupils, who then drive a Volvo V40 hatchback.
‘AMAZING STEP IN ROAD SAFETY’
Police Scotland Chief Inspector Andy McLean told The Corner in a media release: “Getting driver education into schools as part of the curriculum has been a long-term goal for everybody involved in the partnership. It offers long-term benefits for everybody on the road.
“To see our efforts come to fruition is an amazing step forward in road safety. The 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 is to be welcomed.”
The teen scheme follows a successful and on-going programme launched in 2014 that has given hundreds of 17 to 25-year-olds advanced driver training.
The Scottish Borders Council committed £48 000 (more than R800 000) to put the youngsters through the Institute of Advance Motoring’s ‘Skill for Life’ programme after it was found that youngsters accounted for 20-25% of the 400 people injured on Borders roads from 2008-12.
‘STARTING TO HAPPEN’
The course provides a free vehicle-health check for those who take part to ensure their cars are in the safest possible condition.
Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart’s CEO, added: “IAM RoadSmart has long campaigned for road safety to be a part of the national school curriculum. This scheme shows it is starting to happen.”
The young driver initiatives will contribute to curring the number of road users killed or seriously injured in the region – which aligns with Volvo’s vision that by 2020 nobody should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car.
A survey of more than 100 advanced drivers who completed the advanced 17-25 driving course had interesting results:
99% said the course improved their driving
66% said it helped them to avoid a crash
90% said the course gave them greater awareness of other road users
Need more be said, Mr Minister of Transport? Get on it…!