Charterhall hosted Scotland’s first driving day for under 17 year olds and with nearly 70 youngsters taking up the opportunity it looks to be the first of many.
The event involved 30 volunteer instructors giving each of the 11-17 year olds five hours of one-to-one driving instruction off road in vehicles provided by Clelands Volvo, D.S.Dalgleish Citroen and Belmont Suzuki Selkirk.
Starting with the basics of car control those taking part developed their skills over the day, working up to braking and understanding safety systems, and tested their handling ability, through a slow speed slalom.
Daniel Paterson (16) 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 gets the opportunity to say that!
“When telling all my mates today they are all really interested in trying this for themselves.”
The event was the idea of twice former British Touring Car champion John Cleland, who 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.”
The IAM RoadSmart (formerly the Institute of Advanced Motorists) hosted the event at Charterhall, near Greenlaw, and their operations director Pat Doughty said: “Anyone who ever doubts the value of pre-licence driver education needs to see it in action.
“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 over-represented 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.”
The driving day was supported by Police Scotland, Scottish Fire Services, Scottish Ambulance Service, Scottish Borders Council, Henry Trotter of Charterhall Estate and local politicians Calum Kerr, John Lamont, Rachael Hamilton and Paul Wheelhouse.
MP Calum Kerr tweeted a video of his daughter at the event: “Never driven b4 today here’s 14yr old daughter Eleanor driving, thanks @jclelandracing @policescotland @IAMRoadSmart.”