Scottish Borders Under17 Driving Event

Blog post posted on 27/06/16 |
Pat Doughty - IAM RoadSmart charity and operations director

Back in January when I was standing in the middle of CharterHall estate on a disused racing circuit converted to a landing strip, in the cold and rain with John Cleland former Super Saloon racing champion and now Volvo and Jaguar dealer in Galashiels, Amanda Smith, Shaun Cronin, Gill Macgregor all from IAM RoadSmart, and Andy McClean Chief Inspector of Scottish Borders police, the idea of conducting an under 17 drivers event it seemed like the impossible.

But, we went back to Clelands Volvo dealer and started the planning, keeping our plans simple and moderate, as we had no idea what the take up would be with the young people in the area, we planned only a one day event, booked the Volvo hospitality trailer, marquees, toilets and mobile food vans, all from local suppliers at reasonable rates. Suzuki cars committed to supply vehicles for the event, backed by Volvos from Clelands.

Back at IAM RoadSmart the promotional leaflet was designed and distributed to all the local Borders schools, then the phone at the IAM RoadSmart started ringing, within five days we had over 120 young people registering their interest; for us all the challenge began.  We extended the event to two days, which meant we could train 80 young drivers, the invites and venue was confirmed.

On the day, which was 21st May 2016, the cold desolate space we had encountered in January was transformed to a well laid out driving event course with supporting infrastructure. Through the weekend over 68 young drivers who had never driven before, were trained to move, stop and steer a vehicle by our volunteer instructors from the local police, fire and rescue and ambulance services, many ending the day taking their parents for a drive around the circuit to demonstrate their new found skills. We saw smiles by the miles, and successfully introduced the future drivers of the Borders area to a safe and responsible way of handling a vehicle, and the word safety was not used all day, proving that training can be enjoyable. We look forward to the next event…hopefully in September 2016, with the land owners blessing.