Charterhall Airfield, Young Drivers Training

Where driving is concerned, younger really is better ……

Over the 3rd weekend in May, sixty eight 11-17 year olds in Scotland got behind the wheel of a car well before reaching legal driving age, thanks to an event sponsored by twice former British Touring Car Champion John Cleland and hosted by IAM RoadSmart (formerly the Institute of Advanced Motorists).

“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” said John Cleland.

The Borders under-17 driving day allowed young people of just 11 years upwards to drive a car, off the main road, with expert tuition. The event was supported by more than 30 volunteer instructors from local emergency services, giving each participant five hours’ driving, one-to-one.

Starting off with the basics of car control, the attendees developed their skills over the day, working up to braking and understanding safety systems, as well as a test of their handling ability, through a slow speed slalom. Modern and future technology was also a theme on the day, with a demonstration of autonomous braking.

The event was supported by Police Scotland, Scottish Fire Services, Scottish Ambulance Service, Scottish Borders Council, twice former British Touring Car Champion John Cleland and Henry Trotter of Charterhall Estate, with vehicles supplied by Clelands Volvo, D.S.Dalgleish Citroen and Belmont Suzuki Selkirk.

Four local politicians attended, Calum Kerr (MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk), John Lamont (MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire), Rachael Hamilton (MSP for South Scotland) and Paul Wheelhouse (Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy and MSP for South Scotland). Kate Thomson, Assistant Chief Constable, Local Policing East, was also there over the weekend.

IAM RoadSmart regional quality manager Shaun Cronin 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. Judging by the beaming smiles on the faces of the many young people who came along, the event seemed to be an outstanding success. Everybody can enjoy their driving more, no matter their age, experience, or interest.”

Calum Ker SNP MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk tweeted a video of his daughter taking part in the event: “Never driven b4 today here's 14yr old daughter Eleanor driving, thanks @jclelandracing @policescotland @IAMRoadSmart.” @ScotLandEstates

This event will be running again later this year. Dates to be announced.