First Scots teenagers to take driving lessons in school
Under-17s in the Borders are to be among the first in the UK to have driving lessons at school.
The pupils from nine secondaries will receive off-road tuition at a former airfield at Greenlaw, near Coldstream.
Motoring group IAM RoadSmart - the former Institute of Advanced Motorists - is launching the Drivewise scheme to install good habits in young drivers before they take to the roads.
Drivers aged 17-25 account of 10 per cent of all motorists but 20 per cent of crashes on Scotland’s roads.
Males in that age group had Scotland’s highest crash rate in 2015 - 4.1 per 1,000 people compared to 2.4 for all drivers.
The rate was 2.7 for 17-25 year old female drivers.
The one-day courses for 15-17 year olds run between April and October and will be part of the school timetable.
They comprise classroom teaching and learning simple vehicle manoeuvring.
IAM RoadSmart said they would be among the first pre-licence training for under-17s in the UK “in a properly controlled and structured way”.
The scheme also involves Police Scotland and Galashiels Volvo dealer Clelands, and Â£73,000 funding from Transport Scotland.
IAM RoadSmart described the scheme as “truly ground breaking”.
Chief executive Sarah Sillars said: “We have long campaigned for road safety to be a part of the national curriculum and through this pioneering scheme in the Scottish Borders, it is starting to happen.
“It is crucial the ‘safe driving is fun’ message is brought into the lives of young people at school age and encouraged as part of the school system.
“We believe that simply leaving young people at 17 to handle this all by themselves increases the risk tremendously to the driver and those around them.”
A Scottish Borders Council spokesman said: “Pupils taking part in Drivewise will do so during the school day.
“The scheme is seen as providing educational benefits in terms of skills development, providing information on attitude and behaviour as both a passenger and driver, and hazard identification in a safe, off-road environment.”
The council also sponsors 17-25 year old drivers to sit their IAM RoadSmart advanced driving test free.